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Iconic historical B&W photos get colorized
11.07.2013
11:47 am
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I normally dislike it when B&W photos get the colorized treatment. I feel like it takes a certain je ne sais quoi from the original image and the photographer’s intention to catch a particular moment in its own time. However, these colorized photos by redditors from /r/colorizedhistory and /r/colorization I kinda dig. I still prefer the original B&W images, but they do somehow make you feel like the past isn’t so… distant.

You can view the rest of the collection on Imgur.


Mark Twain in the garden, circa 1900
 

Auto wreck in Washington D.C, 1921
 

 
More colorized photos after the jump…
 

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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11.07.2013
11:47 am
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Hey Russell Brand: ‘Read some f*cking Orwell!’
10.30.2013
04:58 pm
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With their recent Russell Brand-edited issue, The New Statesman probably got the most bang for their buck ever in the entire 100 year history of the venerable socialist journal. Brand is obviously a controversial figure and he pulled no punches during the—I thought totally amazing—interview he gave to BBC broadcaster Jeremy Paxman to promote the issue. Seen all over the world, I can’t think of a better advertisement for what the New Statesman is selling or radical ideas in general.

It was a worldwide mass media coup and Brand’s comments penetrated the normal noise. That people were talking about socialism, the capitalist oligarchy and the survival of the human species, well, great work for a comic. Even Fox Business News dipshit Neil Cavuto inadvertently opened the door to a brief discussion of socialism on his show in a segment critical of Brand’s comments. Anyone curious enough to follow up got exposed to something they’d never normally see on Fox.

Brand concluded his own epic “letter from the editor” exhorting his readers NOT to vote as it only lends legitimacy to politicians and the capitalist system, something which has now led comic actor Robert Webb, the self-described “other one” on the brilliant Peep Show series (watch it on Netflix, Americans) to respond to Brand in the pages of, where else, The New Statesman.

From Webb’s “Russell, choosing to vote is the most British kind of revolution there is”:

... I thought you might want to hear from someone who a) really likes your work, b) takes you seriously as a thoughtful person and c) thinks you’re willfully talking through your arse about something very important.

It’s about influence and engagement. You have a theoretical 7.1 million (mostly young) followers on Twitter. They will have their own opinions about everything and I have no intention of patronising them. But what I will say is that when I was 15, if Stephen Fry had advised me to trim my eyebrows with a Flymo, I would have given it serious consideration. I don’t think it’s your job to tell young people that they should engage with the political process. But I do think that when you end a piece about politics with the injunction “I will never vote and I don’t think you should either”, then you’re actively telling a lot of people that engagement with our democracy is a bad idea. That just gives politicians the green light to neglect the concerns of young people because they’ve been relieved of the responsibility of courting their vote.

Why do pensioners (many of whom are not poor old grannies huddled round a kerosene lamp for warmth but bloated ex-hippie baby boomers who did very well out of the Thatcher/Lawson years) get so much attention from politicians? Because they vote.

Webb, of course has a very good point here, but I can see where Brand is coming from as well. I used to think voting was futile myself, because no matter who I voted for, the government was always getting elected. In my defense, I was in my 20s and there was a thimble-full of difference between between Democrats and Republicans during the Clinton era. Now I vote, it’s insane not to until the Tea partiers die off en masse.

He continues:

You’re a wonderful talker but on the page you sometimes let your style get ahead of what you actually think. In putting the words “aesthetically” and “disruption” in the same sentence, you come perilously close to saying that violence can be beautiful. Do keep an eye on that. Ambiguity around ambiguity is forgivable in an unpublished poet and expected of an arts student on the pull: for a professional comedian demoting himself to the role of “thinker,” with stadiums full of young people hanging on his every word, it won’t really do.

That’s one way to look at it—mature, nuanced, something a Cambridge grad might argue—but as much as I respect what Webb has written, I don’t think his open letter will sway the adressee much one way or the other. If you look at the some of the other articles in Russell Brand’s New Statesman issue, it’s pretty clear where he’s coming from and it’s not a timid place. He might not be coming out and directly calling for a violent revolution—although he surely hints at it—but some of the pieces he selected for publication most certainly do a lot more than beat about that bush, notably Naomi Klein’s essay which asks aloud what a lot of people—including many scientists—have been wondering: Is waging revolution against the unsustainable capitalist Leviathan the unambiguous answer to climate change and survival of the human species?

Webb feels the most British form of revolution is precisely the one waged at the voting booth:

What were the chances, in the course of human history, that you and I should be born into an advanced liberal democracy? That we don’t die aged 27 because we can’t eat because nobody has invented fluoride toothpaste? That we can say what we like, read what we like, love whom we want; that nobody is going to kick the door down in the middle of the night and take us or our children away to be tortured? The odds were vanishingly small. Do I wake up every day and thank God that I live in 21st-century Britain? Of course not. But from time to time I recognise it as an unfathomable privilege. On Remembrance Sunday, for a start. And again when I read an intelligent fellow citizen ready to toss away the hard-won liberties of his brothers and sisters because he’s bored.

I understand your ache for the luminous, for a connection beyond yourself. Russell, we all feel like that. Some find it in music or literature, some in the wonders of science and others in religion. But it isn’t available any more in revolution. We tried that again and again, and we know that it ends in death camps, gulags, repression and murder. In brief, and I say this with the greatest respect, please read some fucking Orwell

.

Left-of-center types not voting out of protest will only cede the government to the reichwingers, Webb’s right about that, but seriously dude, death camps and gulags are NOT the obvious consequences of a revolution against capitalism either. I winced when I read that. Reading a little Orwell can never be a bad thing, though.

What about voting AND some direct action so they know we’re fucking serious?

I think where both Robert Webb and Russell Brand might agree is that things seem to be coming to a head.

Billy Bragg posted the following to his Facebook page today:

Have to admire Robert Webb’s pro-active response to Russell Brand but it has also made me wonder, in a week when I’ve been protesting on the streets of London with Mark Thomas and Bill Bailey, why is it comedians who are willing to take a stand these days rather than musicians?

Below, a classic clip from That Mitchell and Webb Look:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.30.2013
04:58 pm
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Les yé-yés: France’s adorable early ‘60s pop stars
10.27.2013
12:23 pm
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sylvievartan
Sylvie Vartan

France’s cheerful early ‘60s yé-yé bubblegum pop music didn’t feature only young female singers (there was, for example, Claude François), but girls were certainly the majority, first on the radio show Salut les copains (Hello Friends!), named after a Gilbert Bécaud song, and the subsequent spin-off music magazine of the same name. Any song featured as the week’s favorite pick on the show was guaranteed to be a hit, just like titles from Oprah’s book club. Feral House has published a grand tribute to these glamorous singers, Yé-Yé Girls of ‘60s French Pop, by French music writer Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe, with the first of many accompanying playlists.

yeyebookcover
 
The best known yé-yé (derived from “yeah yeah,” coined three years or so before “She Loves You”) singers were Sylvie Vartan (long-time wife of French rocker Johnny Hallyday), France Gall, Sheila, Jacqueline Taïeb, and the stunning Françoise Hardy, whom Mick Jagger once called his “ideal woman.”

Sylviebeatles
Sylvie Vartan with The Beatles

Chantalgoya
Chantal Goya

GillianH
Gillian Hills

Francoishardy
Françoise Hardy

FranceGall
France Gall

Serge Gainsbourg, then in his thirties, wrote the hit “Poupée de cire, poupée de son” for the schoolgirl singer France Gall, whom he called “the French Lolita.” He then wrote “Les Sucettes” (“Lollipops”) for her, a thinly veiled paean to oral sex, which greatly embarrassed her when she eventually learned the song’s true meaning. (Note the dancing penises in the video.)

Yé-yé, like the vast majority of Francophone music, didn’t receive a lot of attention in the U.S. when it was first released, although Susan Sontag did mention it in passing in “Notes on Camp” in 1964: “Sometimes whole art forms become saturated with Camp. Classical ballet, opera, movies have seemed so for a long time. In the last two years, popular music (post rock-‘n’-roll, what the French call yé yé) has been annexed.” Fifty years later yé-yé has enjoyed a new wave of interest, thanks to Quentin Tarantino and Mad Men.


Feral House’s Yé-Yé Girls of ‘60s French Pop:


Jacqueline Taïeb, “7 heure du matin,” with lyrics fantasizing about Paul McCartney:

More after the jump…

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Posted by Kimberly J. Bright
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10.27.2013
12:23 pm
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Tell me your nightmares: ‘The Asylum For Shut-Ins: Video Psychotherapy’ 80s cable access insanity
10.25.2013
11:08 am
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thedoctor
 
When cable TV was first introduced, it was something of a free-for-all of programming. An America accustomed to having three and only three national channels for decades was suddenly confronted with dozens to hundreds of cable stations that had to fill 24 hours a day with anything, so there was a lot of throwing shit at the wall to see what would stick. Much of it was worthless of course, because it was TV, but some seemed like nothing less than the trailblazing cultural produce of visionary mavericks. While New Yorkers had the infamously bizarre Channel J and L.A. had pretty much anything you could dream up and some shit you never could, even we flyover rubes could at least enjoy the unpredictable weekly freakouts of the USA Network’s Night Flight and other overnight oddities.


And then there was public access.

I have no idea what’s up on public access cable nowadays, but I suspect it’s primarily churchy stuff. The emergence of phone cameras and YouTube made public access instantly quaint, but in its day, the situation was that in order to be granted a contractual monopoly to serve an area with cable TV, a provider was required by the FCC to set aside at least one commercial-free channel for any members of the public who walked through the doors to do their own shows. Free training in videography was part of the deal as well, so the only barrier to entry the cable companies could erect was to schedule public training for difficult hours of the day, which some did, and which only served to ensure that the most motivated (which often meant the most bonkers) people showed up. It could be a bastion of admirable idiosyncrasy or a fucking garbage can, but for much of the 1980s, some of the weirdest and most fearlessly inventive TV in the world could be found in those little regional treasure troves.

And in the cable access of late ‘80s Cleveland, OH, The Doctor was the king.

In 1987, the East suburbs’ Cablevision company began airing a strange program called The Asylum For Shut-Ins: Video Psychotherapy. It made no pretense to being edifying, it showed no local bands’ cheapshit music videos, it wouldn’t tell you when the PTA rummage sale was being held. It was there to disturb, and goddamn, at its best, it was magnificent.. The aforesaid Doctor was the titular psychotherapist and host - a cheap, sunglasses-sporting ventriloquist dummy whose persona was half Peter Ivers manic cool, half Reverend Jim Jones mass-homicidal, and he’d deliver insanely malevolent monologues/scoldings in between rapid-fire clips of B-movie violence. From the show’s FB page:

The Doctor is a sadistic, power-mad ventriloquist dummy who administers doses of mind bending video ultra-violence and savage social commentary. He delivers his demented therapy with machinegun-like collages of horror movie clips… audio and video samples fused together in a musical tapestry of terror, madness, and destruction… coming attractions for the end of sanity.

 

 
But check out the rhythms of all those jump cuts - they have an undeniable musicality to them. This obviously wasn’t some busted-ass Cleveland Heights freakshow who just wandered in one day, the man behind this curtain had skill. We’ve gotten used to a world where a feature film can be quickly cut on a laptop computer, but in Asylum’s day, uzi-edits were tedious and cumbersome work involving multiple tape decks, mixers, and extraordinary timing and patience. This was the work of an experienced hand, and that hand was Ted Zbozien’s. Then and still a video editor in Cleveland, he took some time out of his work day to tell DM about Asylum’s beginnings. What follows was heavily edited down for brevity and clarity from a lengthy and animated telephone conversation with Zbozien.

I started doing a lot of manipulation with found footage in the early ‘80s, cutting TV commercials, doing a lot of sampling and looping. I made one video with Ernest Angley, the crazy TV preacher, and that in particular was a big hit at the Athens (OH) Video Festival like in ’85 or so. That was sort of the beginning.

Coincidentally, my buddy Jeff Adam, who became The Doctor, he was a really wacky, funny guy. We made some videos, short films, and he was always the main character because he was such a flamboyant and funny improviser with a great camera presence. He picked up a Danny O’Day ventriloquist dummy that he started pulling out at parties, and it was an excuse to vent. You could say the craziest things, insult people, expose harsh truths - as long as you were saying it through the dummy. Those things kind of came together when we decided to do videos with the dummy. I was collecting a lot of horror clips, and I was a fan of the old Ghoulardi show, and I thought it would be fun to do that sort of wraparound style show with the dummy as the host.


The glasses came from shooting the dummy and realizing the eyes were dead, just painted on, they were nothing, just dead eyes that don’t move. But if you put the sunglasses on, you could imagine his eyes darting around behind there. I cut them out of a piece of mat board and used electrical tape for lenses, and it just KILLED us, and Jeff went crazy with it.

So the first two shows were in the straight wraparound style while I started to develop the “Video Psychotherapy” method of splintering up shots and making montages. For the second show, we used the 1940s British movie Dead of Night, it was an anthology movie, with five stories that were linked together. The one we really liked starred Michael Redgrave as a ventriloquist, and his dummy became the model for The Doctor’s personality. Then we decided that the diced-up material was more entertaining than the movies, so we chucked the movies and added more of The Doctor. And then we just poured it on. We created about 10 shows, about 6 or so of which were the really hardcore ones.

With The Doctor, we wanted to satirize Morton Downey Jr, Ernest Angley, Ronald Reagan, anybody who wielded power and had a big mouth and liked to rule over others. When we had him say things like “KILL THE CHILDREN, TAKE THE MONEY,” that’s not funny, but it IS funny, and it’s the truth. It seems reckless and insane. That’s fine.

The show became the talk of the town’s weirdo art and music scenes around the turn of the ‘90s. Punk singers started mimicking the Doctor’s misanthropic rants as between-songs patter. A sculptor designed and exhibited a viewing booth made expressly for watching the show. Around 1988-1991, Asylum really was, more than any band one could name, THE Cleveland underground phenomenon that kept things interesting in the downtime between the waning of the ‘80s music scene and the grunge dam-burst. It’s not hard to see why, so please, enjoy some more clips.
 

 


&nbsp

 

 
Ted Zbozien recently crowdfunded a feature length all-montage film called Worst Movie Ever.

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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10.25.2013
11:08 am
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Incredulous talk show host investigates the whole ‘brony’ phenomenon
10.25.2013
09:47 am
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Bronies of Norway
 
The Hasbro toy My Little Pony and its associated TV series go back to the 1980s, but it took until 2010 and the premiere of the Hub Network series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic for the brony phenomenon to kick into a whole new gear—and, indeed, enter the vocabulary of non-MLP:FIM fans.

Brony is a portmanteau word combining bro and pony, and while the coinage was originally intended to cover adult males who are fans of the show, the word has since expanded to cover all adult fans of whatever gender. Many who are not so inclined find the concept of bronies well-nigh disturbing—as awesome as the show may be, the obsession has some people worried, including, apparently, whatever company recently fired an MLP:FIM devotee for displaying his fandom just a little bit too openly (i.e. not very much) at the workplace.

Of course bronyism in and of itself is harmless—in the age of the Internet, any excellently produced show will generate the desire to congregate and discuss and worship it, and that includes fare for children.

Last October the Norwegian talk show Sent med Simen Sund (“Late with Simen Sund”) dedicated a segment to the subject, inviting two of the founders of the group Bronies of Norway (932 likes on Facebook as of this writing), Ruben Stølan and Edvin Ellingsen, in to discuss their joint obsession. Sund can hardly prevent a slightly incredulous tone from creeping in—but it’s targeted at six-year-old girls!—but otherwise keeps everything appreciative and respectful. They even connive to get explorer Erling Kagge to try on Edvin’s Rainbow Dash hat.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.25.2013
09:47 am
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Awkward, hilarious interview with Steve Albini
10.24.2013
10:58 am
Topics:
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At first I thought I was going to be bored by this Steve Albini interview by a guy named Tucker Woodley on his Let’s Chat show. As soon as Woodley opened his mouth I almost turned it off, but decided to stay with it.

I’m glad I did. It’s an awkward interview, the type you see on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (like when Richard Dunn met Dave Navarro) or Between Two Ferns, but with… Steve Albini!

It’s highly uncomfortable and very funny. Just watch. I’m assuming that Albini was in on this, but maybe not, it’s pretty hard to tell. NSFW-ish.
 

 
With thanks to Nate DuFort!

Posted by Tara McGinley
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10.24.2013
10:58 am
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Kurt Cobain on high school: ‘I always felt so different and so crazy’
10.22.2013
04:41 pm
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A young Kurt Cobain.

“I always felt that they would vote me most likely to kill everyone at a high school dance.”

I know there’s been way too much Nirvana and Kurt Cobain overload going on the Internets lately due to the recent In Utero reissue. But I’m going to post this interview anyway because, well, it’s… special

Jon Savage interviewed Kurt Cobain back in 1993 and a lot of the discussion focused on Cobain’s childhood and teenage years. It’s actually quite a revealing and totally honest interview. Cobain talks about his parents’ divorce, having a homophobic mother, dealing with painful scoliosis, discovering punk rock, why he only had female friends in high school, anger and being a loner. 
 

 
With thanks to David Gerlach!

Posted by Tara McGinley
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10.22.2013
04:41 pm
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‘In Search of Ancient Astronauts’: The Outer Space Connection
10.21.2013
07:00 pm
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In Search of Ancient Astronauts is a 1973 TV movie that’s an edited down and re-dubbed (by Rod Serling) version of a 1970 German documentary titled Erinnerungen an die Zukunft (“Chariots of the Gods”). The film explores Swiss author Erich von Däniken “paleo-contact” and “ancient astronauts” theories that space aliens landed on Earth in prehistoric times and were responsible for many of mankind’s oldest mysteries and religious myths, including Stonehenge, the Egyptian pyramids, the Nazca lines and the Moai of Easter Island.

Erich von Däniken’s books were absolutely huge best sellers throughout the 1970s, but his work has always been shunned by establishment archaeologists, historians and religious scholars. Carl Sagan referred to his work as “object lessons in sloppy thinking.”

What was not widely-known about him then is that at the time of his first book’s success, von Däniken was in prison on fraud and embezzlement charges. Over a period of twelve years von Däniken had falsified records and credit references of his employer, the Hotel Rosenhügel in Davos, Switzerland, in order to take out loans totaling $130,000 to pay for his book’s research expenses, which included world travel to exotic places. His second book, Gods from Outer Space, was written while he was in prison and with the money earned from publishing—his books sold in the millions—-he was able to pay restitution on his crimes and get out early.

And although he apparently went legit—and seems to believe what he espouses—many feel that this hotel manager cum “expert on the ancient world” is still on the make and accuse him of lying and falsifying evidence. Erich von Däniken’s theories have been debunked conclusively over and over and over again, but never mind that, von Däniken is still being taken semi-seriously to this day on TV shows like History Channel’s Ancient Aliens series.

This is what really set off the whole Erich von Däniken craze of the 1970s. In Search of Ancient Astronauts was the blueprint for producer Alan Landsburg’s long-running In Search Of… TV series narrated by Leonard Nimoy.

“This may be the most startling and controversial film you’ll ever see…”

At least it’s campy fun.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.21.2013
07:00 pm
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‘Skaterdater’: Ultra-groovy film about sidewalk surfing from 1965
10.20.2013
10:37 am
Topics:
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Skaterdater, one of the best skateboarding films ever made, has finally popped up in a decent color version after years of bouncing around the Internet in terrible looking transfers.

This sweet little movie from 1965 chronicles the early days of skateboarding when kids rode tiny oval decks with steel wheels. Amazingly the film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1966 for short film. The first and only film about skateboarding to manage that kind of artistic feat. It’s got a groovy soundtrack that includes a tune by Davie Allan And The Arrows, “Skateboarder Rock.”

I owned a Hobie skateboard and we use to call what we did sidewalk surfing and we did it barefoot. On the East Coast, where I lived, sidewalk surfing was the closest we could get to the SoCal lifestyle and we bleached our hair to give us the appearance of being teenage beach bums. But the humidity and wooded suburbs of Virginia were about as close to Dogtown as The Four Seasons were to the Beach Boys.

The film tells a story with no dialogue. The surf rock-esque soundtrack was composed by Mike Curb and Nick Venet with Davie Allan and the Arrows playing “Skaterdater Rock” .
It was the first film on skateboarding. It was distributed theatrically, both domestically and internationally, by United Artists. It was reviewed extensively, including “Time Magazine”.

The skateboarders were members of the neighborhood Imperial Skateboard Club from Torrance, California. Their names are Gary Hill, Gregg Carrol, Mike Mel, Bill McKaig, Gary Jennings, Bruce McKaig and Rick Anderson. Most of the action shots were taken in Torrance, Redondo Beach, Palos Verdes Estates. The final shot was Averill Park in San Pedro.” Wikipedia.

These young dudes have some classy moves and an almost Zen-like grace. The roots of cool, California-style.

If you dig the soundtrack, you can stream all the tracks here.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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10.20.2013
10:37 am
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Find selfish lovers at the Ayn Rand dating site!
10.17.2013
08:40 pm
Topics:
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In the late 1990s, the white supremacist bootboys at Stormfront decided to start their own online dating service, obviously, with the express goal of meeting some cute bootgirls via the Internet. I don’t imagine it’s all that easy to find a mate, let alone a date, when your musical tastes gravitate towards Skrewdriver, your bookshelf consists solely of Mein Kampf and you want to dress up as Francis Parker Yockey for Halloween.

Where is that isolated Odin worshiper in Pennsylvania going to find a nice girl he can take home to mama? For certain people, navigating the dating minefield can prove to be a real dilemma, but it’s getting easier, even for guys taking selfies in front of the Confederate flag holding shotguns…

Match.com. Christian Mingle. J-Date. Russian brides. Asian ladies. Vegans. Freegans. Hepatitis C carriers. Furries.  It can get pretty specific. There’s a dating service for practically everyone now, even the most repellent people on the planet, like libertarians and the lowest of the low, Ayn Rand fanatics. Being a self-identifying “Objectivist” can be tragic and socially awkward thing in the “real world.” Where would that aspiring John Galt in Pawnee ever meet up with a Dagny of his own to throw up against the wall in fulfillment of her quasi-rape fantasy?

It’s as hard as Rearden steel to meet that certain special someone who wants a selfish lover!

Via the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Hancock is a proponent of Russian-American author Ayn Rand’s philosophy of capitalism and self-interest. At age 30, he had already been “looking for a very specific kind of woman” for three years when Google searches led him to the Atlasphere, an Ayn Rand appreciation site with a dating component.

There, he found his dream date: a woman who also wanted to do logical cost-benefit analyses of every decision.

You hear that? Oh baby, let the good times roll!

Atlasphere founder Joshua Zader, 40, of Phoenix, says niche sites are more efficient than broader sites such as OKCupid or Match.com.

“If you assume that maybe 1 out of 500 people is a serious fan of Ayn Rand’s novels, on a normal dating site you have a 1 in 500 chance of someone sharing the same basic values,” he says. “On the Atlasphere, every profile shows you what you want,” he says. The 10-year-old site has seen a spike in membership in recent years—it has more than 16,000 dating profiles—after two “Atlas Shrugged” movies were released, says Mr. Zader, a Web developer. User handles include “Atlas in Arlington” and “ObjectivelyHot.”

So it’s not just fans of shitty fiction with a pseudo-philosophical component, it’s people who like shitty films based on that shitty pseudo-philosophical fiction.

Ms. Betit-Hancock, a schools special-needs coordinator, says she had been “kind of freaking out,” wondering how she’d find someone “rational” to date. She met a man at a meet-up group for fans of libertarian former congressman Ron Paul, but “he couldn’t explain why he supported Ron Paul and why the ideas behind his policies made sense.”

Because they don’t make any fucking sense to begin with, that’s why!

Mr. Hancock, an engineer, says he specifically wrote his profile to “scare people who weren’t serious Objectivists away.”

I don’t have anything to add to that. I’m all snarked out now.

Over at Vice, Dave Schilling trolled the Atlasphere. Read his story here. Part of his online profile, below:
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.17.2013
08:40 pm
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