WELCOME TO V. VALE’s RE/SEARCH NEWSLETTER #100, DECEMBER 2010
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. MESSAGE FROM YOUR EDITOR, V. VALE: WIKILEAKS: Democracy, the Constitution, Technology & The Future
2. Counter Culture Hour with CRAIG GRAY: 6 PM Pacific Time, Sat Dec 11 – SF cable channel 29, also simulcast on-line (see below)
3. PETER “SLEAZY” CHRISTOPHERSON (X-TG) OBITUARY
4. FORTHCOMING EVENTS
5. What We’ve Attended/What We’ve Been Reading/Seeing
6. Toiling Midgets review by Ian Webster
7. Recommended Links – send some!
9. Letters from Readers
1. MESSAGE FROM YOUR EDITOR, V. VALE –
Don’t know about you, but we here at RE/Search have been obsessed by the fate of WIKILEAKS – freedom of speech (ultra-important to us publishers; we’ve had our “challenges”), rule by law (not CIA or politicians’ Nixon-like whims), democracy, the Constitution, et al have been under attack by US politicians who are the True Enemies of Freedom. Or to invoke Star Wars mythology, this is the Independents vs. The Borg! So we’ll give our general overview and then list a few links of interest – please send us more, especially if they contain OTHER INFORMATION.
1. No U.S. law has been broken, as far as we know.
2. Julian Assange, Wikileaks “founder,” is an Australian (now nomadic). US Rightwingers Rush Limbaugh, Joe Lieberman & Sarah Palin seem to want him assassinated. No wonder their websites were attacked.
3. An American Intelligence officer and Iraq Veteran, “Pfc Bradley Manning,” is in jail (solitary confinement, Quantico, Virginia military base) without bail for allegedly passing the 250,000+ cables/memos to “Wikileaks” to post on the Internet. So the cables weren’t “hacked” from the Internet; an “insider” provided them? US politician, _______, is calling for his execution. Why no publicity/protest?!
4. Apparently fewer than 1,000 (only 650?) of the 250,000 cables were actually made available on the Internet. The full 250,000 cables were sent to the NYTimes & London Guardian.
5. VERY SUSPICIOUS: the TIMING of the Swedish Prosecution Authority, plus Lawyer Claes Borgstrom’s clients’s charges of sexual assault, jailing Julian Assange. “This Stinks to High Heaven!”
6. KILL THE MESSENGER. Isn’t Mr Assange the wrong target – what about the CONTENT? Sadly, in terms of content, the cables themselves seem to be mostly “gossip” without important revelations – even somewhat boring.
7. NO CONSEQUENCES: Apparently Nobody has been killed or lost money since Wikileaks posted the cables.
8. HYPOCRISY: Is the US trying to behave like China or Russia now? Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, PostFinance.ch (Swiss bank that froze Mr Assange’s account), FaceBook, Twitter, are all acting like a unified police state trying to squash WikiLeaks who simply aired “real” documents for world citizens to read for themselves. No wonder these de facto enemies of Free Speech — Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, PostFinance.ch ‘s — websites were attacked. However, hundreds of “mirror” sites are springing up, trying to keep the content still available.
9. What would Kafka think? What would Burroughs think? What would Ballard think?
10. What questions arise about the very nature of the Internet? Secrecy in government? Real War as Information War? Is cloud computing trustworthy if you Question Authority? Does Google easily find the WikiLeaks documents? Does the Internet Technology make it super-easy to squash dissent, rub out history, and stop money transactions? And how do YOU Feel about each of the above Institutions (including the “beloved” social-media sites FaceBook & Twitter) who are all de facto acting in unity to obliterate WikiLeaks?
11. “Economics Determines Life.” How can curious, truth-seeking individuals continue to send financial support to WikiLeaks? Good luck – You sure can’t access wikileaks.org anymore! Try www.wikileaks.ch . Or ask a teenager…
SOME QUOTES sent to us by my friends and readers:
() “…the material was allegedly downloaded by ONE INDIVIDUAL from a supposedly secure Pentagon website to which a large number of people had access. If so, that is an embarrassing technical failure. (Go after the I.T. Dept?)”
() “…every effort was taken to ensure no information that would put anyone’s life at threat was revealed [on WikiLeaks].”
() “It is central to the self-image of the US that it is a government of laws not of men…The US should not reach around the law to seek to punish Mr Assange.”
() “PayPal has now said that it did so at the behest of the US government.”
() “Dutch police have arrested a **16-year-old boy** (!!) for online attacks on MasterCard and PayPal…”
() “…accused Amazon of hypocrisy for selling an e-book version of the WikiLeaks cables just days after stopping its hosting support for the [WikiLeaks] site
() “Defending secrecy by subverting the rule of law is a very poor bargain.”
() “How is it that a team of five people has managed to release to the public more suppressed information… than the rest of the world press combined? It’s disgraceful.” (Mr Assange to The Sydney Morning Herald)
() “…Assange said he and his staff had had death threats…”
() “WikiLeaks [wants to be] = Transparency International.”
() “WikiLeaks supporters can only provide funds via direct bank transfers to accounts in Germany and Iceland and postal donations to a PO box in Australia.”
() Sent to us by Phil: “The NY Times has had great coverage – read the comments here, people aren’tfalling for the govt. BS:
— “Why Wikileaks Is Good for America” http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/12/wikileaks-editorial/
() best thing i’ve read about the free speech angle: “Wikileaks and the long hail” by Clay Shirky
() and this, which examines Assange’s motivations and philosophical beliefs, and is downright fascinating.
from Bruno in France:
() Contre-attaque WikiLeaks : vers la fin de l’état de droit ? (Le Post)
() Amazon n’héberge plus WikiLeaks après des pressions politiques (Le Monde)
() WikiLeaks et le contrôle d’Internet (Mediapart)
() Les USA sont responsables des fuites de WikiLeaks (7Sur7)
() Il faut défendre WikiLeaks (L’Express)
() WikiLeaks abandonné par son fournisseur de noms de domaine :
() WikiLeaks et la “première guerre informatique”
() Mastercard bloque les versements adressés à WikiLeaks :
In conclusion: Ever get the feeling something is MISSING here? (a variant of Johnny Rotten’s “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?!”) And what’s missing is (among, possibly, other themes and aspects) is an entire critique of the so-called “technology” now here-and-everywhere.
Why is it seemingly impossible to make data secure on the Internet? Why is it so easy to perpetrate the so-called Distributed Denial-of-Service [DDoS] attacks harnessing scores of often unknowing computers, all somehow acting in concert? What is the REAL truth behind Internet Banking — what is the true history here? — how many bank accounts and transactions have been compromised, defrauded, swindled, transferred, absconded with, gotten away with (as is depicted in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)? The Technology Itself has a major, mysterious role in this WikiLeaks Whoopdedoo — the leaked content itself seems to so far be virtually inconsequential, compared to, say, the Watergate revelations or the Pentagon Papers. It is the Technology That Is the Big Puzzle Here. Who will bring the bearer of light? As of now Our future, of Cloud Computing, Definitely Seems Dark. WikiLeaks was just the Messenger — and as they say, “Don’t Kill the Messenger…”
2. Counter Culture Hour – Sat December 11, 2010 – 6:00 PM PACIFIC TIME, featuring Craig Gray. This is repeated due to a possible broadcast problem, but wraps up with an all new performance video: Negative Trend recorded at Annie’s Social Club. Sounds great!
Edited/produced by Marian Wallace; interviews by V. Vale.
The Counter Culture Hour (aka RE/SEARCH TV) is also simulcast ON-LINE as well as on cable access San Francisco Channel 29 — 6pm Pacific Time, Sat December 11, 2010
– see this link at broadcast time:
You need a fairly decent internet connection and computer to “get it.”
USA west coast: 6:00 PM Saturday, Dec. 11
USA east coast: 9:00 PM Saturday, Dec. 11
London: 2:00 AM Sunday, Dec. 12
Tokyo: 10:00 AM Sunday, Dec. 12
If you cannot get this online (we have heard some complaints about this, although it seems to have been working for us of late), please write us to get a DVD copy. ($20 postpaid USA domestic, $25 overseas – to cover expenses/shipping).
Would you like to have a Counter Culture Hour showing in your town? Please write and ask us how you can do this. (write: email@example.com)
See RE/Search channel on youtube: “researchpubs”
3. PETER “SLEAZY” CHRISTOPHERSON OBITUARY (Feb 28, 1955 – Nov 24, 2010; died Bangkok, Thailand).
Seems like just yesterday: I met Sleazy when he and Cosey, Chris & Genesis first came to San Francisco – was it 1981? My memory is of some cavernous space – can’t immediately find my diary – and we made introductions and I asked what he wanted to do here, because maybe I could drive him. It turned out he had been tape-recording this meeting on a tiny Sony cassette recorder in a brown suede case. (As soon as I could, I got the exact model, and not long afterward used it to tape William Burroughs, including in the car on the way to the Oakland Hills Chabot Range.) Sleazy took us all to a leather/fetish/gay-male-underground store — I had never been to one before, but HE knew — and that’s when I bought my first copies of PFIQ Magazine… and 9 years later produced the RE/Search best-seller of all time, MODERN PRIMITIVES (BTW, recently released in a Deluxe Hardback 20th Anniversary Edition on Glossy Art Paper, w/10 new pages).
When Throbbing Gristle played their San Francisco reunion concert on April 23, 2009, the next morning I did a small video interview with Sleazy. If we get enough feedback from our readers, we’ll attempt to edit it into a more finished production (although it’s not quite enough for a 1-hour Counter Culture Hour program). In my opinion, Sleazy was quietly the most extreme, out-there member of Throbbing Gristle. His subtle genius, both musically and graphically, helped make TG the legendary band that it is. He will definitely be missed by all who were ever fortunate enough to work with him.
Someone forwarded me this quotation from him: “We are all only temporary curators of our present bodies, which will all decay, sooner or later. In a hundred years or so all the humans currently alive will have died. I take great comfort in knowing, with certainty, that thing that makes us special, able to enrich our own lives and those of others, will not cease when our bodies do but will be just starting a new (and hopefully even better) adventure … ” unklesleazy.tv
Link to a BBC 6Music Tribute broadcast today for the passing of Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson. (audio)
Boing Boing Video: The Throbbing Gristle Interview
4. FORTHCOMING EVENTS (San Francisco unless Otherwise Noted)
() FREE. Now. William S. Burroughs “OBJECTS-BUNKER” Photo show by Peter Ross, The Common, 1077 Mission/7th St The show features 14 images of possessions belonging to the beat writer William Seward Burroughs, from his still intact New York City apartment (known as The Bunker). Burroughs lived in The Bunker (the underground lockerroom of an 1880’s YMCA) through the 70’s, and after moving to Kansas in 1981 kept the space as his NYC home. He died in 1997, and The Bunker has remained as he left it.
() $5 Meet RE/Search! Sat Dec 11, 1-5pm at a very special private event – email us if you’re interested in attending!
() FREE Meet RE/Search! Sun Dec 12, 6-8pm at Prelinger Library. 301 8th St/Folsom. V. Vale and Charles Gatewood with “Modern Primitives” video/slide presentations celebrating the release of the Deluxe Hardback 20th Anniversary Edition of MODERN PRIMITIVES – a book which Changed the World. Presented by Monte Cantsin.
() $$ Sat Dec 11. 7pm. Support the Roxie Theater’s benefit starring JOHN WATERS! $250; The Roxie, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087, roxie.com Or, go to the Riptide Bar in S.F. and hope you “see” him afterwards!
() $ Now through Dec 19, 2010: “Pearls Over Shanghai.” Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF: go to thrillpeddlers.com for a schedule of their current Grand Guignol offerings!
() FREE Fri Dec 31, 5:30pm, at Justin Herman Plaza (foot of Market Street). CRITICAL MASS. Bring bicycle, helmet, lights, Costume!
() DEVO CONCERT – New date will be March 18, 2011 The Warfield, SF (Amazing to remember that we first saw this band 33 years ago in 1977 at the Mabuhay Gardens, S.F. Are we still dreaming?! See this DEVO Show, or … For more info go to www.clubdevo.com
5. What We’ve Attended/What We’ve Been Reading/Seeing/Listening to/What We’ve Been Sent
In our November newsletter we announced, “In the December 2010 newsletter we will produce a diary listing and reviewing all the books, magazines & other media which have been received by us for review, and which we have spent dozens of hours reading, studying, or watching. We went to APE, Expo for the Artist, the Southern Exposure Local Art Publisher Fair, and met dozens of interesting “creatives” – some of whom gifted us with their personal treasures they’d made or published.” Here is a go at that:
() Oct 30, 2010: We were disappointed to miss a rare Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) Show up in Santa Rosa – blame it on the rain and our in-house raging sore throat that Saturday. Fortunately, there are videos to watch. For a complete list go to srl.org, but here is a sample: http://srl.org/shows/rage/show/showvideos.html
() A new-to-us San Francisco publisher titled Berrett-Koehler Publishers (bkconnection.com, or bkpub.com) sent us a review copy of BUILT TO LOVE, by Peter Boatwright & Jonathan Cagan ($27.95, hardcover, 192pp, 6×9″). ISBN 978-1-60509-698-8
As we are interested in the “Control Process” and how we are possibly controlled (without our knowing it), we were intrigued by the book’s premise: why product emotions drive product success. From the book’s cover quotes, we read, “Emotions have been under-researched and under-utilized in designing a product’s identity and strategy… BUILT TO LIVE uncovers the science of product emotion… for companies to form deep bonds with customers, emotions must be generated by a product itself…” Of course, we immediately thought of all the Apple products – THEY know how, already. But what about our RE/Search books? Don’t WE want to evoke “satisfaction, beating the norm, coming to life, freedom, and happiness”? (p. 44) Yes, well so does Coca-Cola!
It’s not a bad idea to aim at producing as beautiful a book as possible, but we don’t like to compromise on content. Our content has a lot of words, whereas there has been a cultural shift in the past two decades toward so-called “Visual Culture.” We feel that in the populace there has been a decline of the ability to analyze, to discriminate, to truly perceive what is of lasting value and worth keeping. Well, it doesn’t hurt to “ramp up” the packaging of your content and make it more appealing. As an example, the book shows the difference between the cardboard shipping carton for a MacBook Pro vs. a Lenovo laptop… World of difference in appeal! (p.66) Details matter. So, our next covers will be BETTER! And, we hope we can include more memorable, poetic “lines”…
BUILT TO LOVE contains a number of “emotion charts” which require concentrated study and correlation with the texts accompanying them. Why? Because human behavior is both more complex and simpler than as is sometimes assumed. I liked the paragraph on the basic Asian rice cooker vs. more complicated new models: “When Western companies introduced high-tech, multifunctional, computerized versions…the high-tech product removed the high-emotion cultural experience, was found confusing and disruptive, was felt to be unsafe, and led to its demise.” (p.133) Well, I’ve had the same simple rice cooker for 3+ decades, and I couldn’t agree more. So…You get a lot of ideas per page! Recommended. My only criticism: I wish the text were a bigger, darker font!
Berrett-Koehler has an interesting mission statement — they’re not Counter Culture like us, but they ARE trying to Encourage a Better World. They also published possibly the best/most concrete/easy to “feel” explication I’ve ever read about the necessity to resist/boycott “Big Box” stores and patronize only local, mom-and-pop city stores … which is easily done in San Francisco’s North Beach/Chinatown, but not in the American suburbs. Here it is (in part) – Please Enjoy!: Stop Them From Eating My Town
by: Thom Hartmann, Berrett-Koehler Publishers | Serialized Book
() Lights! Camera! Cuisine! by our former intern Holly Erickson is a guide to having a Film Viewing/ Cooking Party. Don’t just watch the on-screen Holiday Goose being cooked, have yours in the oven to eat when the credits roll! “Fabulous Foods From the Films You Love” — www.lightscameracuisine.com
() James Howard Kunstler’s WITCH OF HEBRON (novel). Atlantic Monthly Press, 352pp, 6×9″, $24. One of our essential weekly routines occurs on Monday when we go to kunstler.com and copy the latest “blog,” reformat it and print it out so we can read it on paper (we try to read NOTHING on the computer screen). We find Kunstler’s apocalyptic sense of humor somewhat reassuring — at least SOMEBODY is Not Lying to Us as he denounces the real estate/mortgage fraud-conspiracy, the criminal Banking system, the Las Vegas-like stock market, the Fed endlessly printing fake-paper money, the death of not just the car but the fragile expensive highway system, the coming abandonment of the suburbs everywhere in America (especially Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico) — the list goes on and on…
Kunstler’s WITCH OF HEBRON tries to put you there, in the future, when oil, the Internet and cheap electricity are but a dim memory. Your narrator is an eleven-year-old boy/surgeon-in-training as he encounters challenges and characters both amusing and alarming. What we enjoy is the sense of day-to-day (or night-to-night) DETAIL in this future land of lack, where cartridges for a gun are scarce antiques, not to mention matches, and coffee (which must be imported) is rarer than caviar. When a horse dies it’s a major catastrophe (no, there haven’t been cars or trucks for years — not even bicycles, which require imported rubber for tires), and dogs and cats are rare — after all, their bodies are made of edible meat…
Nothing has been imported for decades. It’s amazing how dependent we’ve become on materiality of foreign-origin which must be transported a thousand to 18,000 miles to reach us. So: no more bananas. No vanilla. No cinnamon. No curry. No chocolate. Nothing made of rubber. No one knows how to make binoculars anymore (BTW, Walgreens had them recently for $9.99 a pair; 8×50 power — made in China, of course). Is ANYTHING made in America now? Hardly. And that’s the point. In the not-too-distant future, the enormous body of manufacturing knowledge and expertise which brought us to our current state of iPad Wi-Fi Wonderland may vanish like the wind, leaving us to survive in A WORLD MADE BY HAND, which is the title of Kunstler’s predecessor to WITCH OF HEBRON. (Recommend reading that, of course.)
We look forward to a series of sequels to WITCH OF HEBRON. Kunstler has already created a number of characters whose individual sagas could easily be developed. I, for one, look forward to a Kunstler novel starring a clan of Can-Do sisters whose collective ingenuity, resourcefulness and cleverness are the equal of any male-run household…
() Specious Species #4. Produced by our former intern Joe Donohoe. Interviews with V. Vale (one of the best ever in print), Jello Biafra, Gray Brechin, Kal Spelletich; fiction by John Shirley — actually much, much more is here. Well worth the $5 cover price. 176pp, 5×8″, perfectbound. Order from 415-571-9290, or send $9 to Joe Donohoe, 3345 20th St, SF CA 94110.
() The 2011 PSYCHO NURSE CALENDAR. Funny, Sexy & Rewarding. All Color, 13×13″. $18 postpaid – order from WowCool.com (Marc Arsenault – he gave this to us at the APE Show). We especially like all the Birthdays – did you know William Burroughs, Charlotte Rampling & H.R. Giger were all born on Feb 5?! Gorgeous color photography & artwork.
() Punk Rock Saved My Ass. Anthology edited by Terena Scott & Jane Mackay. 150pp, 6×9″. Printed by Lightning – the “best” Print On Demand Press, according to Terena & Rick, who shared their table with me at APE. This is one of the ONLY non-corporate books on Punk which communicates the POSITIVE virtues of the much-maligned subcultural uprising (why else would people join in the first place?!). $14 postpaid from Medusa’s Muse, POB 1021, Ukiah CA 95382.
() Regent Press of Berkeley, CA sent us OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, INTO THE FIRE by Marianne Robinson. 172pp, 6.5×9″. This book covers the rise of the Folk Music/Protest Movement in America from the hands-on perspective of a sensitive, humorous woman who has lived a full life. And the Folk Music Movement was a subculture all to itself, between the Beats and the Hippies. Not sure that it’s received its due recognition in that regard — how many books have you seen titled The Folk Music Movement? Maybe kids have all heard “Kumbaya” and “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” and “Little Boxes” and those other Weavers/Pete Seeger songs, but maybe they haven’t. This was a DIY movement just like Punk; in my Incredibly Strange Music Vol II book, the Cramps were the first to say that Punk Music was Folk Music. Amen!
America has changed over the 20th century, and folk music helped change it. I didn’t know that the state of Delaware was segregated, with cross-burnings on the lawn in the town of Arden during World War II! And that young African-American boys were NOT allowed to visit young white girls then. Didn’t know that Paul Robeson was a folk-singer sometimes barred from performing at white events (BTW, by legend, he lived in my San Francisco apartment building long ago, as did Odetta and Janis Joplin).
This book contains some poignant photos documenting political protests, folk music protests, hootenannys, and characters such as poet Jack Micheline and Danny Kalb (Blues Project guitarist), plus poems, posters and other historical primary-source documentation. “Doing what I loved and going broke” is a familiar theme. Women artists today and in the future will be able to relate to the author’s story. No, she didn’t become rich and famous, but she has definitely kept a commitment to a life of protest against injustice, conformity and the temptation to just give up! [end]
() Regent Press also sent us Joseph Arthur’s ANOTHER LEAP INTO BLACK – which, coincidentally, is my favorite color. 147pp, 5×8″, $18. Novel. We reprint part of their description: “…a typical married guy’s existence in the suburbs north of San Francisco, while also leading a strange and secret other life…between the tie-dye psychedelic scene and the dark goth clubs of the City. (The author’s real name may be Joseph Wollenweber.) The introductory pages bear these quotes: “Don’t hide the madness” – Allen Ginsberg. “The Beat Generation?-That was just a bunch of guys trying to get laid.” – Jack Kerouac. Personally, I’d never read these 2 quotes before, although I’ve read a lot of Allen Ginsberg — mostly while he was still alive (Ginsberg was the man who gave me my first $100 to start publishing, back in 1977).
I started to read. But I have to admit I have a problem with the archetype of older men trying to bed girls half their age — the feeling is very discomfiting. Highly-detailed sexually-explicit narratives are … Somebody else better enjoy this. But not me… There are a number of local references, local bands, local clubs mentioned — it’s good that somebody wrote this down; without history we have nothing. The book reminded me of the young Henry Miller and the young Aleister Crowley, but far more anatomically explicit, with less joie de vivre and crazy naivete…
() ERECT Magazine #001: San Francisco Underground Renaissance. V. Vale, Winston Smith, Ron Turner, Mickey McGowan (Unknown Museum), Charles Gatewood, Ana Barrado, George Kuchar. Partially edited by the RE/Search “adopted son” Yoshi, with his old friend Kosuke. This beautiful, all color, 6×9″ bookazine has one of the best interviews with V. Vale. Also some beautiful color photos and artwork. We think it can be ordered from www.plan-9.co.jp – contact us if you encounter problems…
() Local legendary book publishers LAST GASP sent us one of the most beautiful books we have ever seen — “a 240-page tome documenting the process and complete inking of 33 full-body, back piece tattoos… hundreds of photos show the bodysuit tattoos in all stages from design to finished result, as well as images of the tattooists at work.” Titled FULL COVERAGE, this is the revised Third Edition. Photos by Max Dolberg and NSKolectiv (NSK), an essay by Horiyoshi III (legendary Japanese tattooist) and introduction by Adrian Lee. 11×14″, $80, ISBN 978-0-86719-734-1, published by Last Gasp and Analog Tattoo Arts Kollectiv.
Presented in a beautiful slipcase cross-pollinating Japanese tattoo art with Russian Constructivist Lettering, this truly coffee-table sized book is impressively weighty and strikingly designed from start to finish. As soon as you carefully extract the matte-black hardbound from its rectangular fitted box, you immediately run your hands over the raised, embossed 3-D cover design, stare in puzzlement at the spine’s minimalist “FCNSK” glossy black letters, and as you open the book you are wowed by the bronze endpapers bearing a grid of swirling, complicated rapidograph-thin drawings, some evoking the draftsmanship of the German Surrealist Hans Bellmer.
Page One: Horiyoshi III’s one-page historical summary of tattooing was impressive in its concision. Elegance of language means simplicity and minimalism yielding maximum meaning, with grace and flair. Page Two-Three: “For the Many Unfamiliar with Our Operation” told the tale of the NSKolectiv (NewSkool), formed in 1995. More than fifty people worked on this book project over several years, according to Adrien Lee, the author. Key vignette portraits of the book’s principals face the page wherein NSKoletiv has crafted a beautiful Constructivist/Leonardo da Vinci-inspired Logo.
Then the color photos of “Process” begin. Each pair of pages is enviably designed, utilizing grids divided by white or black bars. A beginning tattoo artist could certainly gain a swift education by studying the close-ups and comparing/contexting them to the total full-page portraits. The tattoo designs themselves are often somewhat dazzling in their colors and sensual flowing outlines, particularly on women subjects. As the subjects are naked (unlike in commercial tattoo magazines), the huge page size grants a lengthy intimacy affording a much fuller comprehension of the artist’s craft and vision. Actually, both men and women chosen for this project ALL bear dazzling bodywork redolent of a huge range of artistic palettes and concepts.
This book is expensive but well worth the money, especially for anyone assuming the mantle of a “tattoo artist.” Aspiring artists have a new, higher bar to aim for — this volume sets the standard for a dazzling new plateau of body art achievement. It feels as though a special, higher quality of sunlight illuminated the steppes where these designs were imagined and executed — you can easily go “Ohmigod” at each full-page backpiece. Best to appreciate this book slowly, like a complicated meal with a variety of wines at a five-star Parisian restaurant — definitely DO NOT look at more than a few pages at any one sitting. A complex body of artistry (literally) demands contemplation, repose, meditation, and reverie…
It is truly a pleasure to be exposed to a superior work of art. This book is a superior work of art. It will give pleasure over an entire lifetime. Store it in a safe place, away from light, extreme temperature changes, and moisture… but near your favorite reading armchair, presided over by a great reading lamp, with your favorite cat or dog nearby…
() Last Gasp sent us TOKYO UNDERGROUND 2: Toy and Design Culture in Tokyo. All-color Hardback, 200pp (?), 6×8″. This is a beautiful “book tour” of Tokyo as well as a guide to the strange futuristic megalopolis, somewhat reminiscent of urban America but strangely alien as well (in a good way, not scary – Tokyo is probably the safest city in the whole world). Right away you sense that with this in your hand, you are going to uncover the REAL TOKYO UNDERGROUND, whose design sophistication, complexity of referents, and dazzling palette of colors, make America seem, well, so last century.
It’s no secret that, in general, young Japanese artists know more about American pop culture than Americans. Why? They are driven and disciplined in their Curiosity, exemplary of the Epistemological Drive that Derrida once postulated. One explanation is that the Japanese, migrating from China, were the cultural, revolutionary, dissenting genetic vanguard looking for new frontiers while escaping rigid, heterodox, stifling authoritarian social structures and traditions. But it’s not enough to feverishly search for the “new” – one must have that all-too-rare Sense of DISCRIMINATION enabling one to “Keep the Best and Let Go of the Rest.”
BACKGROUND is important here. And there are key, signature, archetypal films (Star Wars, Godzilla, Shogun Warriors) that facilitate your entry into the avant-garde Tokyo Design Connoisseurs Club – a club without a clubhouse – that gives you the key to the most amazing, wonderful, mysterious discoveries you could make in the la-la land of infinite consumerism that Tokyo can be — a paradise of plethora… a dream come true where you just might find that super-rare Tadd Dameron or Herbie Nichols jazz recording you always wanted but could never find in America…
The maze of Tokyo’s little streets and shops have never been so beautifully demystified as in this most thoughtfully conceived and executed handbook, replete with highly useful maps and blank notepages at the end for recording your “discoveries” and “finds” and “Must Return To’s”… I really like the book’s suggestion at the end: “Show the shop owners this book, and ask them to sign their pictures”! Perfect – a very Japanese “thing” to do, that infinitely improves and helps preserve the memories of that trip to the Land of the Perpetually Rising Sun… Sayonara, hi ho…
() For some of us, books will ALWAYS be a superior escapist experience compared to videos – even though modern technology enables us to pause, freeze-frame, rewind, even zoom in — but who NEEDS all that when you can have a superbly printed, high-resolution, all-color book-escape into an artist’s unreality that is spectacularly more “beautiful” than the reality inside your own head — even when you dream…
Or maybe the best artists are simply those who capture — with minimum noise and distortion — those most fleeting, flighty visions of ecstatic travel their dream-imaginations can conjure up at night. Such an artist seems to be Nathan Jurevicius, who invented and painted his travel-epic ScaryGirl in the most vivid colors imaginable. Some of the best so-called pop culture of the past half a century has come from Australia (think Mad Max I-II-III, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Walkabout, plus the novels of Arthur Upfield), and here the precocious artiste Nathan J was born in 1973 in Bordertown, South Australia.
The world of Nathan J is populated by evanescent shadows, faraway headlights, foggy mountainscapes and porous creatures (sometimes monsters?) who seamlessly migrate between the external countrysides and the inner landscapes of a character’s mind. There are so many different kinds of light in his paintings, so many dimensions, so many levels — they are exercises in depicting inter-dimensionality as seen through eyes beginning to turn opaque, especially in the distance or around the edges. Buildings become living beings; heads become enormous; bodies become small; perspectives become vertiginous; smoketrails resemble snakes slithering through the air; sunlight in the forest offers escape and hope…The ground becomes deeply transparent like the ocean, with sea creatures dancing just beneath the surface… What a Trip!
Some jewel-like small texts inform us about the artist’s creative process, revealing the necessary yielding to both play and ritual, improvisation and discipline, which provide a kind of mythological foundation underlying the often fantastic landscaping and variety of characters enacting — are they petit morality plays? I especially liked his notion that “things are not always as they appear, and that strengths are shown through a person’s weaknesses.” Great! How else can we live with ourselves, except as we reframe our weaknesses – tranform them, sublimate them – into strengths? And yes, I agree with his conclusion: “There’s a great theme of friendship and love – the two most important things in the world.” Hear, hear! Indeed, nothing else matters, when all is said and done, and when one is lying on one’s deathbed — probably, that is all that has truly mattered: friendship and love…
Nathan Jurevicius, SCARYGIRL, published by Last Gasp, all-color, 120pp?, 9×12″ hardbound.
() BLAB WORLD No. 1. Judging by the SHAG cover of this all-color hardbound, I thought: “Into the fantasy world of 50s Beatnik Art, when Men had Goatees and women all had Big Hair.” But NO! This is an anthology of a huge range and span of art by contemporary artists. Some of my favorites (Spain, Ron English, Sue Coe, Mark Ryden) appear with a host of less-familiar names – Karen Barbour went to the S.F. Art Institute in the ’70s, right? But I didn’t know she did paintings like THIS one (page 50-51)!
Do anthologies have to have a unifying “theme”? Or can they just show a spectrum of widely varying artwork without a connecting narrative? In this volume, each artist displays a self-contained “chapter” or stand-alone “page” … until you come to the APOCALYPSE section! This is one of my favorite themes in art and literature — timeless; one which will never go out of date — and what a trip we take, from one landscape to another — more, more, more — fantastic! So many different styles, moods, atmospheres and depictions… until suddenly we come to “The Life of an Artist” by Sergio Ruzzier (always like anything to do with an artist’s story or history or evolution or inspirations). The WEIRDO Cover Art Story is refreshing and retro. Then BAM – Nazi Kitsch — objets and objects you NEVER see at most “Antique Shows” … although maybe now I’ll start keeping an eye out and maybe collect Anti-Japanese Kitsch…
Ron English never disappoints with his up-to-the-minute comic satire invoking the perils of Facebook “friending.” The two styles of Julia Moore/Steven Guarnaccia (“Lament on the Death of Willie”) and Mark Todd’s “The Dreaded MOTHMAN of West Virginia” contrast eerily with the in-your-face high-res pointillism of CJ Pyle’s Ballpoint Bravura – disturbingly disgusting portraits composed of hair and mohair (?). The biography of C. J. Pyle was very informative. Peter Kuper’s FOUR HORSEMEN give a satisfying, apocalypse-redux ending to this eye-opening compendium of very dark art reproduced in dazzling Pantone colors (I read they have over 10,000 Pantone colors available now).
So, as the prevailing theme is Apocalypse, I highly recommend BLAB WORLD No. 1. Some of the pages can be studied, over and over, while others of seemingly less impact turn out to grow on you… you start to “get it,” in a delayed-gratification kind of way. Last Gasp has produced yet another crystallization of our civilization’s End Game, capturing the zeitgeist of our Near Future where the primary cultural preoccupation is Saying Goodbye to the Past, One Day at a Time…
Blab World Vol 1 Number 1, 128pp, 10.5×10.5″, Hardback, All Color. $24.95
6. Toiling Midgets; Ants & Orchids at Omnicircus, SF, Fri 12/10/10, by Ian Webster
I checked the Ants & Orchids and Toiling Midgets show at the OmniCircus last night. Both bands play instrumental arrangements sans vocals. Ants & Orchids is a trio of guitar, drums, and bass, that is rhythmically complex, at times, while ranging through many rock-based permutations. The Toiling Midgets, too, went through many permutations while incorporating elements of psychedelic and post-punk dirge-like tones into an almost impenetrable wall of sound.
I know that “psychedelic” can mean many things to many people, but to me it represents a period of exploration of tone and arrangement, that broke with the simpler models of pop and rock’n roll that had become the standard at one time. I enjoyed the show and found the OmniCircus to be an interesting place to see a musical performance. It sort of reminded me of the old Birdcage Theatre at Tombstone, Arizona, in a post-industrial way. Charming, and yet a bit dark and spooky. – Ciao, Ian
7. RECOMMENDED LINKS (send some!)
() Thanks to Jon Savage, who sent us an advance CD! Jon Savage and the lost history of California punk http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/nov/14/california-punk
() Sent by PhilG: PRANK http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andy-borowitz/saudi-media-fall-for-boro_b_794876.html
– “I love my Hammond organ!”: [ http://www.glatz.com/blog/i-love-my-hammond-organ ].
() from Graham R: http://www.politicususa.com/en/foreign-sarah-palin-traitor
() () from GL: Safety first! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdYSgnfB4v4
() from Claudio Franchini: HYPNO BUREAU – “The Rise and Fall of Berlin Wall”
() Some Throbbing Gristle related links:
() from Gary:
X-TG on YOUTUBE
() “Reality is a stage set that can be dismantled at any time” – J. G. Ballard
9. LETTERS FROM READERS:
() We highly recommend this: to pre-order the upcoming issue of our pal Jack Rabid’s THE BIG TAKEOVER #67, you can send a check for $6 to The Big Takeover, 356 4th St., Upper Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11215) or order online <http://bigtakeover.stores.yahoo.net/>
() “Hi Vale! I have an exhibition of my paintings up at the TRACK 16 Gallery, Santa Monica, right now through December 31… Please come and see it!
Cheers! Laurie Steelink”
() Our former intern Andy T. Lyman has formed NaDA Publishing. He writes, “In an effort to rally support all NaDA titles will be discounted 10% for the month of December. Already Available from NaDA Publishing: Didn’t Die Young Yet by Jacob Cholak, &
White Horses by Douglas Milliken – “Good luck with Publishing, Andy!”
() from our former intern Maya:”Hi guys! I enjoyed Vale’s opening letter, even if it feeds into my pessimism. Although I still detect a healthy light-heartedness about the absurdity of mankind! 🙂
“Also, as usual, a very relevant and interesting review by Michael! He knows how to spark just enough interest without the spoilers.
” I declare war on the stupid trend of modern trailers, where they show 3/4ths of the movie!! Keep up the good work! – Maya R ”
() “Thank you for the the beautiful Ari Up obit by John Sulak. Made me sad that I never saw Ari Up and the Slits. Have enjoyed very much getting your e-mails and the information therein. – Alex”
() “You give so much. Thank you.” – Elizabeth
() “I would do almost anything to work as a technician for you…but then all I have a is a bad electronic engineering degree 😐 … and for whatever that’s worth I still won’t survive the techno-revolution. glad you’re still going… 🙂 ” – Adam H.
() [letter from Berlin] “Hope yur well! Oh and have to mention you had already come into my thoughts from last nite, as i told my story of seeing Tim Leary here at Berlin’s Humboldt University yeeeears ago, just as he had jumped on the bandwagen to become a spokesperson for the new TRIP, that juicy Virtual Reality narrative…
“i was VEry skeptical, but regardless it was cool to catch my first glimpse of the legend. But WHY? Why was he on this very sales-pitchy tour ? After some brain wrenching, i came to the conclusion back then that virtual reality was like a hasty new product where the Ideas Dept. hadn’t come up with anything to top the hula hoop or black lite posters that christmas season, so here we were. BUT for the subversive tribe, perhaps it could be seen as a positive force in the sense that it could be capitalism/consumerism’s holistic BLack HOle. That is, if you can’t get the shopping mall + crocodile brain to turn off, you could at least shuttle them out to the ultimate non-existent suburbs, a parallel universe of taudry games + plastinated dreams, and let the mob do all the damage it wants in the Magic Void.
“Hard to say now, what to make of those thoughts… the labyrinths are still being coded. And Leary’s not around to ask about his personal motivations or his expansive cultural vision, nor his hindsight ! All the best to ya ! – Pod ( from the Btropolis )”. NOTE THAT our LEARY ON DRUGS book is still available, although we’re running out of copies! www.http://www.researchpubs.com
() from Ron Turner: “The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think that it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly coloured, and it’s very loud and it’s fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question – is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us. They say ‘Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride.’ And we…kill those people. Ha ha ha. ‘Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride. SHUT HIM UP! Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and family. This just has to be real.’ It’s just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter because: it’s just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings, and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourselves off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here’s what you can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year, and instead spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, for ever, in peace. – Bill Hicks”
() () from singer/actress Jodi Donkel: “Been reading your books since I was 17 & am ordering the Burroughs/Gysin/TG Hardback, signed.” She sent me a copy of Kurt Vonnegot’s SLAPSTICK – read it in two nights — apocalyptic, funny, weird… set in New York City after the “Green Death” has killed everybody… A “different” take on the imagined future – that’s for sure!
To Our Patient Readers Who Have Made It This Far, A Little Notice: One of my favorite books, RE/Search #8/9: JG Ballard, is down to our last handful of copies. In today’s print-publishing world, it is doubtful it can ever be reprinted (although one can always HOPE!). If you want a Brand New Copy, best get it now! – V. Vale
DECEMBER 2010 RE/Search eNewsletter written by V. Vale & other contributors. Newsletter and website powered by http://www.laughingsquid.com.
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