Firstly, no one was injured in the making of these photographs—they’re not a Buffalo Bill “It rubs the lotion on the body” flesh suit kinda thing—nope—though admittedly these images might not look too out of place in Ed Gein‘s front parlor. But still, no. These powerful pictures are cleverly created photographs taken by June Yong Lee, an artist, photographer and Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA. Each image was painstakingly spliced together from up to 30 different photos of a single human torso—giving an almost complete 360 degree view of the subject’s upper trunk in two dimensions. Here stretched out in front of us is the human flesh in all its glory—its sagginess, flabbiness, the scars, stretch marks, tattoos, tufts and its incredible vulnerability.
Lee has said people hold very strong opinions about his Torso Series of photographs—but for him the human skin is a major part of our identity. Lee became more aware of this after he left Korea for America—as he explained to Sara Coughlin at Refinery29:
When I was in Korea everyone around me was Korean, and their ethnicity or race wasn’t important at all. But then, when I came over here, I realized I was Asian for the first time, which was kind of strange, but that became part of my identity.
When you look at a person, you look at the shape of the person, but also the surface of their skin — their skin color, what’s written on their skin, [and] those things carry their identities in interesting ways.
Though currently out of print, a volume of Lee’s work Skin is available here, while more of his work can be viewed here.
More of June Yong Lee’s ‘Torso Series,’ after the jump…
There’s actually great back-story to Albert Einstein and those open-toed sandals. The man pictured with Einstein above is David Rothman, and he was the one responsible for selling Einstein the fancy footwear back in 1939. From Chuck Rothman’s “Albert Einstein’s Long Island Summer”:
In the summer of 1939, Albert Einstein spent his summer on Nassau Point, in Peconic, NY on eastern Long Island. My grandfather, David Rothman, was owner of Rothman’s Department Store in nearby Southold.
One June day, Einstein came into the store. Of course, my grandfather recognized him at once. He decided, though, to treat him just like any other customer.
“Are you looking for something in particular?” he asked
“Sundials,” Einstein said in his thick German accent.
Now, Rothman’s has always had a large variety of items—just about everything from housewares, to fishing tackle and bait, to hardware, to toys, to appliances. But no sundials. Not for sale, anyway. But…
“I do have one in my back yard,” my grandfather said.
He led Einstein—who seems a bit bewildered—to the back yard, to show him the sundial. “If you need one you can have this.”
Einstein took one look and began to laugh. He pointed to his feet. “No. Sundials.”
Sandals. Those, he had.
E=mcFAAABUloussss! Who knew Einstein had such wonderful gams?!
Like many Americans, my first exposure to Kate Bush was via her fourth album, 1982’s The Dreaming, for despite being a chart-topper the world over, and with a 1978 appearance on SNL under her belt, Bush had virtually zero profile in America before it. The Dreaming is also my favorite Kate Bush album, although it doesn’t have a single one of my favorite Kate Bush songs on it.
Even during a period of popular music that produced such off-kilter masterpieces as PiL’s The Flowers of Romance, Japan’s Tin Drum and Nunsexmonkrock by Nina Hagen, The Dreaming was still an album that was difficult—at first—to get your head around. It’s an album that requires three to five listens before it “clicks,” but when it does, the listener is rewarded with one of the most dazzling, ambitious and audacious things an artist has ever attempted, before or since. In this case, by an artist who was then just 23!
As a song cycle, The Dreaming is a complex and accomplished work, practically demanding to be listened to all the way through (if only out of respect for the genius who created it). Although I went backwards through her first three albums, in retrospect, The Dreaming—produced by Kate alone for the first time—is an abrupt (make that very abrupt) break with what had come before. Gone were the intimate observations on life, the intensely passionate musings on love. sexuality and England’s green and pleasant land—indeed all of the pretty songs that her fanbase obviously expected—to be replaced with poetic and cinematic narratives that evoked far off exotic lands, paranoia, fury, a quest for learning, a stymied oneness with God and comedy. The Dreaming is the work of a great talent operating totally free of any outside pressures or concerns. It would be ridiculous to call it the first “real” Kate Bush album, but there is certainly a clear line of demarcation between Never for Ever and everything that comes after it.
Obviously there was always something monumentally idiosyncratic about Kate Bush, but with The Dreaming, the eclectic nature of her mature vision became boldly manifest for the first time.
“Sat in Your Lap” is the album’s frantic opening number. One of the engineers Bush used on The Dreaming was Hugh Padgham, the man responsible for achieving the famous “gated drum” sound of Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight” number, and I would imagine he’s probably responsible for the fantastic drum sound on “Sat in Your Lap” (I could be wrong about this because Padgham brought in Nick Launay, PiL’s engineer for the heavily percussive The Flowers of Romance album, for The Dreaming and it might be he who recorded the drums here, I’m not sure) (Here’s a link to a demo of the song)
To go to show how lyrics can get misconstrued and yet still end up communicating the exact thing the artist wanted to say, the “Gaffa” of “Suspended in Gaffa” is not a place (as I assumed it was, like Goa or the title of Aldous Huxley’s novel Eyeless in Gaza, which for whatever reason, I have always associated with this tune) but, in fact, refers to gaffer’s tape, the heavy, super strong sticky stuff used on film sets. Whether she’s literally trussed up in gaffer’s tape, bemoaning her lack of a relationship with her maker or stuck cooling her heels in some remote part of the globe, the meaning is probably exactly the same, don’t you think?
E.C.‘s Tales from the Crypt was long dead and buried by the time I’d picked up my first Spider-Man comic and attempted web-slinging off the garage roof. If I’d known about Tales from the Crypt then, I would have abandoned Peter Parker to life as a useful flyswatter and hung my star to the Crypt Keeper. All things horror were a childhood obsession—and though with hindsight some graduate of Psychology 101 might give my predilection for nasty thrills an asshat theory about using horror movies as a means to control personal fears—the truth is—I just fucking loved ‘em.
Of course, the possibility that out there—somewhere—was a happy marriage of comic book and horror story was a pre-pubescent fantasy as remote as the coupling between Cinderella and Prince Charming. Then one day I discovered Boris Karloff’s Tales of Mystery at the back of a rack of comics and knew the Prince’s luck was looking up.
Ye gods, the covers alone were enough to put my imagination into overdrive—like a hyperactive kid popping bubble wrap—the images of prehistoric beasts devouring fishermen on storm-tossed seas, gruesome subterranean creatures clambering out of crypts, devils torturing unrepentant souls, and a viscous ooze devouring all. The fact that each cover had a passport photo of the debonair Mr. Karloff—a man who looked like he worked at a bank or sold life insurance to the over 50s—only made the thrills more enjoyably fun, as I knew this kindly old man would never, ever, go overboard with the horror. Or would he?
Boris Karloff’s Tales of Mystery was originally a spin-off from his TV series Thriller. When the series was canceled, publisher Gold Star re-titled the comic as Boris Karloff’s Tales of Mystery. It continued to be published after Karloff’s death in 1969, and ran into the seventies—around about the time when I picked-up on it. If you want to have a swatch of the whole set of covers available have a look here or here.
This little bundle of goodies culled from everywhere and beyond brings back fine memories of the pure joy to be had imagining the possible terrors that were about to unfold—and appreciating the best thrills are all in the mind.
If you are a cannabis aficionado, getting to visit a properly set-up marijuana “grow room” is an extra special treat.
The first time I ever got to see a fairly large pot grow in the flesh was about eleven years ago in Humboldt County. To say that it was out in the boondocks is an understatement. There were nearly no stop signs, let alone traffic lights (or any signs of electricity for that matter) for at least the last 30 minutes of the journey in the flatlands even before we began the uphill leg of the trip. It was the scariest time that I have ever spent in a car—in this case a big Ford Explorer—and the muddy dirt road was littered with the corpses of cars that had not made it over the years, and that had simply been left there. I mean this was scary.
When we arrived at the top of the mountain we were scaling, almost vertically it felt like, we got out to stretch our legs, pee and unlock the gate. I remarked that I felt like I needed a joint the size of my arm to calm my nerves, whereupon my host informed me that we’d yet to begin the second and far more perilous component of our journey. You know how you can be a total atheist, but pussy out and pray when you’re really sweating it? That was me that night and I DID smoke a joint the size of my arm when we arrived, you’d better bet I did!
At the top of this desolate mountain was a small, but nicely appointed ranch house. HOW they would have ever gotten heavy machinery and bulldozers up there to construct this place was beyond me. Maybe they’d been airdropped? Who knew, but the operation ran on several electrical generators and the house had its own septic tank. I have no idea where the water came from or how it got there. A sizable plot of pot plants were growing outdoors, but these were cleverly covered from the view of any DEA helicopters by trees. In the basement were two varieties of pot growing under lights that I have never seen anywhere else. One was called “Blue Dragon” and it was cobalt blue and smoked like it was a candy-flavored vapor. Another was apparently a Chinese strain that was dark green and dark red, like Swiss chard meets a Venus Fly Trap. (Sadly I didn’t get to try any of this exotic strain).
And the smell! Imagine being in a greenhouse full of… flowers. A treat for the senses. Like honeysuckle, but it’s pot! Sometime in the near future, such a blissful botanical experience should be easier to have, sans all the driving up slippery, muddy dangerous roads and paranoia. You know how wine enthusiasts want to go to Northern California to visit the grape orchards and vinters’ operations? Colorado has the right idea with their “pot tourism.” It’s a blast, and sorry Holland, but the American states that have legal or medical marijuana are simply 100x times better than your dinky little coffee shops.
In any case, until that day, here’s something that simulates the experience of visiting a grow room somewhat—minus the olfactory part—a time-lapse video of the marijuana plant’s growth cycle, from sprouts to heavily crystallized goodness...
For decades upon centuries, revolution of various stripes has often had roots firmly wrapped around and within the print medium. From Martin Luther to Karl Marx, manifestos, underground papers, comics, fliers—the pen not the sword, in other words—have caused change. These are the occasions where the medium itself was indeed the message. When it comes to cultural revolution, this is all truth times nine and with the birth of the counterculture and especially its prodigal bastard child, punk, print media in the form of zines were an absolutely vital part of this.
But all of this pseudo-flowery historical talk is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Rob St. Mary’s incredible tome-tribute to Detroit’s alternative culture magazine, The Orbit Magazine Anthology: Re-Entry. Influenced by its forefathers White Noise (1978-1980) and Fun:The Magazine for Swinging Intellectuals (1986-1990), The Orbit managed to take the punk ethos of the former, the polished yet primed fuck-it-ness of the latter and out of both emerged a local publication whose shakes, quakes and reverberations could be felt not only outside of the Detroit area, but for years later after its demise in 1999.
White Noise featured interviews with punk stalwarts like DEVO, Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers and Pauline Murray from the UK group Penetration. Fun had such biting political activity book whimsy like “Ronald’s Mind Maze,” where you get to navigate around such topics as world destruction and Jodie Foster in the former actor/president’s appropriately ghoulish head. Fun was put to bed permanently in the spring of 1990 and out of its ashes sprung Orbit.
Losing the politics and adding emphasis on local art, culture, humor and entertainment, this bi-monthly free alternative paper quickly established itself as the right mix of edge with just enough professionalism to make it truly subversive. At the center of this paper was its creator, Jerry Peterson, better known to some as “Jerry Vile,” the same man behind the two previous publications and self-described “sloppy perfectionist,” Peterson is revealed as an artist, musician, editor, writer and publisher as a controversially catalytic personality. If you want real creative impact, complete with cultural shrapnel, then you need guys like Peterson, whom might burn down the whole hen house to make the omelet but it will be an omelet you will never forget. The man pissed off everyone ranging from their only real competition, the Metro Times, assorted ex-advertisers and former staff members, including Film Threat editor Chris Gore (all of which is beautifully detailed in the Fun chapter), but his mark was and is undeniable, and the proof of that is all lined out in this anthology.
Created with the goal of being “friendly as possible for all readers while retaining a hip vibe” is a lofty one that can leave a veritable football-field sized room to fail, Orbit escaped this folly by enlisting a strong crew of artists and writers over its nine year lifespan. Influenced by magazines as seemingly divergent as Spy and Oui, Orbit stood out on a visual level alone, complete with its own mascot, “Orby,” a grinning, slightly smug looking globe-man loosely based on former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. Designed by illustrator Terry Colon, who would go on to create work for Time and Entertainment Weekly, Orby would gain further fame when featured on a T-Shirt worn by Quentin Tarantino in his 1995 film, Pulp Fiction. (Orbit was one of the earliest mags to write about the then indie-darling now Hollywood titan, when his debut, Reservoir Dogs first hit the screen back in 1992. It was a kind act the young director did not forget.)
Along with its own personal Alfred E. Neumann-ish mascot, Orbit would feature the work of established artists, like the inimitable and Bathory-like-in-her-ability-to-not-age Niagara, whose artwork was used for the most recent Kid Rock album, First Kiss. Niagara was also a member of both the terminally underrated psychedelic-punk-rock band Destroy All Monsters and the super group Dark Carnival, which also featured both Asheton brothers. But Orbit became known for breaking more artists into the world, including Glenn Barr (DC Comics,The Betty Pages Digest, etc), Tom Thewes (Hi-Fructose), Mark Dancey (Motorbooty Magazine, assorted rock posters) and more. Humans are visual creatures, so if you’re going to have hip content then you’d better have an outside that not only draws the readers in, but also visually reflects the trip you are about to take them on.
Another facet of the arts was the weird array of local Detroit bands that got their first taste of fame via the pages of Orbit, ranging from Kid Rock (back in his flat top days) and Insane Clown Posse to The White Stripes and His Name is Alive. Detroit’s rich and diverse musical history continued well into the 1990’s and all of that is reflected here. One of the biggest surprises is that Rock himself, who not only contributed $20,000 of his own money to the Kickstarter for this book but who also comes across impressively self-effacing within the pages. “Talk about someone trying to get attention—-running around with a flattop hair cut with too much Aqua Net screaming, ‘I’m the pimp of the nation!’” It’s enough to almost overlook the fact that this is the same man that wrote a song called “Jesus and Bocephus.” Almost.
Orbit also delves into the assortment of ways the staff writers would keep themselves and their readers entertained. A personal favorite was their concert listings section, called “Critical Dates.” There can be a certain type of beauty when a writer is bored and the “fuck it! Let’s have some fun!” instinct kicks in. My personal favorite was the write-up for an upcoming Eagles gig. “You would think with all the senseless violence in the world that somebody would get sensible and inflict some bodily hurt on these money-grubbing-has-beens. Hell Freezes Over?” And this was BEFORE the classic butt-rockers released an album only through Wal-Mart.
That’s not even touching the borderline-Subgenius levels of prankdom, including throwing the world’s worst garage sale, where one could purchase such “treasures” as “two really ugly mens wigs,” “single rusty metal coaster,” “broken Sweet Valley High cassette” and “a latex sex device that was left in a garage for 20 years and is now covered in mold spores.” There were more serious moments, including Detroit historian and geographer Bill McGraw’s (using the pen name of Silas Farmer) column entitled “Detroit’s Shameful History” that delved into the city’s less covered and more unseemly past.
Orbit folded in 1999 but thanks to Rob St. Mary’s tireless research and academic-meets-pop-culture-sage approach with this Re-Entry, it will live on for both those who experienced it firsthand and those who never had a chance to hold an issue in their hands. The formatting on this book alone is a graphic designer’s sweet-laced dream but the content meets it riches for riches. To quote Orbit father, Jerry Peterson, “I really, really enjoy making people upset. I think that is my art.”
As a former fan club member of more old-school fan clubs than I care to mention (you know, the ones you used to have to MAIL away for), I thought many of you would dig revisiting the days when for a few dollars you could become a member of your favorite band’s fan club.
Slayer “Slaytanic Wehrmacht” fan club application
The Cramps fan club application
Back in the day, most fan clubs would charge fifteen bucks or less for membership and you would get a bunch of cool swag from buttons and patches, to letters, exclusive magazines or “signed” photos of your idols. Some of you may even remember that members of The Plasmatics fan club (known as The Plasmatics Secret Service, pictured below) got their very own card with their name on it.
The Plasmatics “Secret Service” fan club card
While I sadly missed out on that one (which included a list of “posers get lost” responsibilities on the back of the card which I still take very seriously anyway), I still have a small box full of my KISS Army gear as well as other fan club memorabilia that I’ll never part with. So without further delay, check out some of the sweet vintage fan club applications, mailers, letters and cards from the last few decades from The Cramps, Slayer, LA punks the Screamers and many more. They almost make me want to write to the old addresses just to see if anything comes back.
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be . . . “
Henry David Thoreau
I knew this day was coming, and now that it’s here, it absolutely sucks as much as I thought it would: It is with great sadness that I report that the great genius artist and thinker Paul Laffoley is dead. He was 75.
A few weeks ago I got an email from my close friend Douglas Walla, Paul’s longtime gallerist letting me know that Paul had a heart attack and was in the hospital in Boston and that I might want to give him a call. Like immediately. I did and we spoke for about an hour, mostly chit-chat about his health and his upcoming book and then we talked about the architecture at the University of Cincinnati’s campus. He coughed like crazy—really, really HARD coughs that rattled his chest, I could practically feel the spittle hitting my eardrum through the telephone. Apparently he’d coughed so hard that he’d given himself a heart attack.
The problem was, this hacking cough was something, that he’d been, as he put it, “working on my entire life.” The cough was a permanent condition, in other words, it wasn’t going to go away. Already in poor health for many years—he had an amputated leg, diabetes and heart problems—the combination of this persistent HARD cough and congestive heart failure was the kind of “Catch 22” that meant he wasn’t going to be long for this world.
I asked him if the nurses were treating him well. He said yes, but I teased him that I wanted to speak to the one who had just entered the room, so that I could explain to her how “important” her charge was. “Oh you don’t have to do that,” he said.
I laughed: “Hey, look what happened to Andy Warhol. It couldn’t hurt!”
Douglas Walla let me know a week or so ago that Paul had entered hospice care. He died quietly today.
The visionary artist and luminary, Paul Laffoley, has died today after a long battle with congestive heart failure. He had an extraordinary grasp of multiple fields of knowledge compulsively pursing interests that often lead him into uncharted territory. His complex theoretical constructs were uniquely presented in highly detailed mandala-like canvases largely scaled to Fibonacci’s golden ratio. While an active participant in numerous speculative organizations including his own Boston Visionary Cell since the early 70s, his work began to attract an increasing following in his late career with shows at the Palais de Tokyo (2009), Hamburger Bahnhof (2011), Hayward Gallery, London, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2013). The first book on Laffoley’s oeuvre was The Phenomenology of Revelation published by Kent Fine Art in 1989, followed by several subsequent publications beginning with his first retrospective organized by the Austin Museum of Art (1999).
Forthcoming in March of 2016, the University of Chicago Press will be releasing the long awaited book entitled The Essential Paul Laffoley. He was a kind and generous giant, and he will be sorely missed by all of us.
Today the world lost one of its greatest minds, but it might be a few years before the world realizes this. I am gratified to know that although Paul didn’t live long enough to see the publication of the catalogue raisonné of his work, he did see the galley proofs. Doug Walla worked for decades, really, on this book and it will be an intellectual and cultural EVENT when it’s published next year, mark my words. Many years ago, I can recall discussing Paul with Doug and he told me that what drove him so hard to develop Paul’s career is how tragic it would have been if Paul died in obscurity, and was regarded historically as an “enigma” or as an outsider artist, someone like Henry Darger instead of the Ivy League-educated polymath “Sci-Fi Leonardo” that he truly was. As of today there are several books that have been published about Paul Laffoley, and there will be many more in the future and many doctoral dissertations that will be written about him. I’m sure he died with the satisfaction that his work was not only valued by mankind, but will live on with greater notoriety after his passing.
I don’t have any more words. I lost a friend today, someone I greatly admired and loved. More importantly, the world lost a great genius. The New York Times recently called Paul Laffoley “one of the most unusual creative minds of our time.”
Too true. And now he’s gone.
An overview of Paul Laffoley’s work, courtesy of yours truly…
Like William Burroughs’ “Thanksgiving Prayer,” this “Cthurkey” rears its head every holiday season. It’s almost criminal that we’ve never blogged about it here on Dangerous Minds, so I thought I’d correct that egregious oversight.
Now some of you may have probably already seen the Lovecraftian Cthurkey before. If not, it’s sort of a pisstake of the Turducken and the Pumpple. If you don’t know what these are I’ve supplied links for each dish. But in short, it’s food within food. Kinda like “foodception.”
The Cthurkey consists of a turkey stuffed with octopus, crab and sing—what else—bacon as its topping. I can’t think of anything more fitting for an H. P. Lovecraft-themed Thanksgiving.
Whether it’s the Left Bank, or Bloomsbury, or Sun Records in Memphis, the Cavern Club in Liverpool, or London’s King’s Road, there is always one location that becomes the focus for a new generation of artists, writers and musicians. In New York during the 1970s, this creative hub could be found in a venue called CBGBs where different bands came to play every night spearheading the punk and new wave movement and bringing about a small revolution which changed everything in its wake.
Amongst the musicians, writers and artists who played and hung out at Hilly Kristal’s club at 315 Bowery were conceptual artists Bettie Ringma and Marc H. Miller. Bettie had come from from Holland to the US, where she met Miller—a writer and photographer whose passion was for telling “stories with pictures, with ephemera and with a few carefully chosen words.” Together they started collaborating on various multi-media and conceptual artworks.
In late 1976, Marc and Bettie were drawn to the irresistible pull of creative energy buzzing out of CBGB’s. Most nights they went down to the venue and started documenting the bands and artists who appeared there:
Our first photograph of Bettie with the movers and shakers at CBGB was taken during our very first visit to the club in late 1976. Standing alone by the bar was one of Bettie’s favorite performers, the poet-rocker Patti Smith. At home at CBGB and a wee bit tipsy, Patti was more than happy to oblige our request for a picture with Bettie. Soon we were CBGB regulars, checking out the different bands and slowly adding to our collection of pictures.
Marc and Bettie’s original idea of creating “Paparazzi Self-Portraits” at this Bowery bar developed into the portfolio Bettie Visits CBGB—a documentary record of all the bands, musicians, artists and writers who hung out at the venue, with photographs becoming:
...a reflection of the new aesthetic emerging at CBGB, a contradictory mix of high and low culture energized by fun and humor, the lure of fame and fortune, and a cynical appreciation of the power of a good hype.
More of Marc and Bettie’s work from this punk era can be seen here.
Patti Smith was hanging around at the bar, but no one was taking pictures of her because she was super-shy. She posed with me and then just went away: some musicians are like that, they’re not into socialising. They’re just artists.
Debbie Harry is a really great singer. She had a very different style from what was emerging there at that time. She was not shy, but she was very aloof: you can see that in the picture, hiding half her face behind her hair. It wasn’t something she needed, because she was very pretty, she was the frontwoman. But it gave her safety.
I just love the Ramones. When their music starts I can’t sit still, I just have to start hopping and dancing, and I’m 71 now. We saw them live about 10 times: we would go out of our way to see them perform.