Wait for the drum solo.
Wait for the drum solo.
George Carlin was born on this day in 1937.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Thee Majesty are performing live at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn on May 23rd. Not to be missed if you live nearby.
Thee Majesty began in 1998 as a spoken word project, originally founded by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV and Bryin Dall of 4th Sign of the Apocalypse, A Murder of Angels and Dreams Into Dust. Featuring P-Orridge, Thee Majesty is made up of a revolving group of members including Morrison Edley of Psychic TV. Thee Majesty’s music is a mix of spoken word performance art against Dall’s free-flowing guitar rhythms and Edley’s atmospheric percussion.
I read with interest this article from Salon about a new squatters movement starting to manifest itself in New York, obviously owing to our present economic conditions. In 1983-84, I lived in a succession of squats, first in Amsterdam and then London. London in the early 1980s had a noticeable number of squatted houses in certain areas. In the south London district of Brixton, where I was at the time, I can recall entire apartment buildings and even one entire city block being occupied by squatters. It was a very interesting thing to be a part of. (I have actually been awakened by police. I don’t recommend it!)
“If you think a property might be vacant, because its windows are boarded up and so on, you have to stake it out for a while. You check out the address on the Department of Finance database to see who owns it. Ideally, it would be a bank or the city. You have to watch the building, especially at night, to make sure no one’s going in and out. After a couple of weeks you can get a pretty good idea if it’s empty or not,” said Morales, whose thick black hair, slim, fashionable goatee and athletic figure far belie his 60 years.
He expounded on the further steps for successful squatting. Safety is paramount; Morales advises all potential squatters to check the structural stability of any building, to look for rot or drooping ceilings. Only when a building’s structural integrity is verified should a group of squatters take the next steps and put their own locks on the doors and secure other possible entry points, like windows. Then, according to Morales, they should black out the windows.
“For the first month, at least, you want to stay under the radar—go in late at night, leave early in the morning,” said Morales, who also stressed the importance of having mail sent to the address with the squatters’ names on it. “If you’ve had mail delivered there for a month, and the police turn up, you use it as proof that you’ve been living there for a while, that you’re a valid resident. They usually leave you alone if you can show them that.”
There is a lot of empty property all across America and a lot of people without a place to lay their head. A building cannot be left boarded up for a long period of time. The plumbing gets messed up, vermin take up residence and so do insects. Apparently after about 18 months, a house left completely empty will become uninhabitable.
The amount of overbuilding done in America over the past decade—most of it fueled by Chinese loans—was obscene, A lot of real estate is going to get abandoned by “underwater” debtors. And there sure as hell is going to be an awful lot of commercial real estate that will get defaulted on during the next five years. Local governments should start thinking about how they can legitimize the residents’ claims to some of these abandoned buildings, because it’s probably going to get worse before it gets any better. If the squatters keep the buildings and yards up, why not let them stay there as long as they’re going to be empty otherwise? Maybe they can pay a small rent to the government for a license? It’s time to get creative with one in every eight Americans on food stamps!
You don’t know squatting: A movement returns (Salon)
Squatters turn £5m building into art galleries and cinema (London Evening Standard)
Councils show squatters where they can find out how to break in (Daily Mail)
Star Wars Modern posted about the urbanism of superheroes, and the birth of the superhero as a new archetype of the Depression-era city. As our modern times become more like the era the superhero was born in, it’s no surprise that this time we have turned to superheroes to save us once again, even if only in the realm of our imaginations, and albeit this time largely in movie form instead of comic books.
In his book about the creators of golden age comics, Men of Tomorrow, Gerard Jones writes:
The superman was scarcely a new idea and was in fact a common motif of both low and high culture by the early Thirties, the inevitable product of those doctrines of perfectibility promoted by everyone from Bernarr Macfadden to Leon Trotsky. The word had descended from Nietzche’s Übermensch through Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman, but it was easily wedded to ideas neither Nietzchean nor Shavian. In Germany Adolf Hitler was claiming that a whole nation of supermen could be forged through institutional racism and Militarism, and his popularity was rising steadily. In America the idea of eugenic was being explored as Ivy League universities… Even leftists could use the word: a Cleveland radical named Joseph Pirincin argued in his lectures that socialist production methods would create a ‘superabundance’ of goods and opportunities, would make the citizens of a socialist future a ‘veritable superman’ by our current standards.
That Depression Era mash of eugenics, nationalism, and progress/self-improvement, when introduced into the settings of the already popular crime pulps, gave birth to two enduring strains of superheroes: those that are inhumanly-super, like Superman; and those that are merely humanly-super, like Batman. Each has a place, an urban setting. More than childhood trauma or costume choices, it is these negative spaces that surround the heroes that make them what they are.
Attention hypochondriacs! If you are feeling the need to seriously freak yourself out, look no further than your local Walgreens store! Yup, starting Friday you can purchase an at-home test kit that allows people who, well, worry about these things (obsessively) to see if their DNA makes them more likely to develop one (or more!) of dozens of different health conditions. Breast cancer? Check. Heart disease? Check! Alzheimer’s disease? Can do! Just swab your cheek, pop it in the mail and within a week or so, your life will be completely ruined!
From The Chicago Tribune:
The product’s introduction raises immediate concerns among scientists, bio-ethicists and genetic counselors. They worry that consumers will misuse or misunderstand the results of a test so open to interpretation it is potentially meaningless, or frightening, especially without a full medical assessment.
On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration told the Tribune it is investigating the medical claims the product’s manufacturer, California-based Pathway Genomics, is making in marketing its genetic test, which hasn’t been approved by U.S. regulators.
Pathway officials say the company’s home genetic test meets federal regulations and doesn’t require FDA approval.
“The tests conducted are not an in-vitro medical device and are not intended for use in diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or cure of disease. It does provide information that allows a person to learn about their health to make healthier lifestyle choices,” said Ed MacBean, Pathway’s vice president of product management. “If the FDA contacts us, we will discuss it and address any concerns they might have.”
To this I add merely… “Yikes.” This product will have all kinds of unintended consequences, methinks. Results for the tests cost between $79 to $179, depending on the type of tests you chose.
Genetic test kits to hit stores amid controversy (Chicago Tribune)
Corporate humiliators, The Yes Men, are launching a grassroots effort to help put the brakes on our run amuck military-industrial complex. Because plotting the public shaming of the U.N., Canada, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sucks up so much time, they’re looking to recruit Yes-minded people to Fix The World with them. Thus the newly announced Yes Lab For Creative Activism. Here’s how it’s gonna work:
In a typical Yes Lab project, an activist organization will come to the Yes Lab with a target—e.g. Monsanto, or war profiteers, or one of those “too big to fail” banks, or greedy health insurance companies, or a bad government policy—as well as a goal: to affect public debate, push for legislation, embarrass an evildoer, etc. Depending on ability, they will pay a fee to help the Yes Lab keep going.
We’ll work with the group to develop the smartest, most effective plan to accomplish it. We’ll help assemble the team from within the group as well as our mailing list, we’ll train folks as necessary, and we’ll check in on the project until it’s successful.
Like most well-intentioned start-ups, the Yes Men are now looking for funding. A target of $50,000 would ensure a 6-month period of, “disruptive, productive media events keeping the public reminded of what’s wrong, what could be right, and what’s in store if we don’t change our ways.” To help launch the Yes Lab—and receive some interesting Yes Men goodies in return—click here.
Speaking of doing interesting things with tape and tape recorders, here are a few engaging examples of art based on the nearly dead medium. Few are the recording purists who remain loyal to the magnetic stuff but Its tactile plasticity sure works well in these contexts.
(below) Christian Marclay‘s “The Beatles” (1989): Recorded music of the Beatles on crocheted magnetic tape. Oh how I love this, so many layers of meaning. Plus it’s just screaming to be worked over the by the analogue tape glove !
And in other Governor news…what if Arnold Schwarzenegger from Total Recall sang about his wants, needs, and desires to see the colonies of Mars instead of (sorta) speaking them? It might look something like Jon and Al Kaplan‘s Total Recall: The Musical. I do believe it’s a work-in-progress, but the first song from it, The Mountains of Mars, is just now starting to circulate.
“He can’t hide from being a liberal!” As campaigns go, Alabama’s race for Governor is shaping up to be even nuttier than the one on last season’s Big Love. It seems ex-Democrat but now Republican Bradley Bryne just isn’t conservative enough for many people in that state (boosters, I’m guessing, of Byrne’s “faith and family values” opponent, Tim James).
Watch below as Byrne’s “lunatic” belief in evolution and skepticism that the bible’s 100% accurate come under attack. As one YouTube commenter noted, the exaggerated Southern accents were probably used to appeal to as many
hillbillies locals as possible.
More Alabama nuttiness: The Real Bradley Byrne