The peerlessly weird Beefheartian post-punk of Stump
04.15.2014
07:31 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Unorthodox

Tags:
Stump


 
Stump were a uniquely aberrant Irish/British foursome active in the mid to late ‘80s. After some success in London with the Mud on a Colon EP, the Quirk Out mini-LP, a Peel Session, and a track on NME‘s famed C-86 compilation, they were picked up by Ensign Records to make 1988’s LP A Fierce Pancake, a supremely screwball statement-of-purpose, at turns and at once absurdist, whimsical, and dark. The performance that brought the band to Ensign was their appearance on The Tube, wherein they performed their song “Tupperware Stripper” as “Censorship Stripper,” probably in a dodge against trademark concerns.
 

 
The band initially caught my ear in 1988, with the preposterous single “Charlton Heston,” which featured croaking frogs for a rhythm track and the facepalm-worthy refrain “Charlton Heston/Put his vest on.” But when I heard the whole album, the mere zaniness I expected turned out to be a veneer for some truly mind-bending and aggressively awkward Beefheartian experimentation. The guitar and bass playing here are a few leagues beyond merely idiosyncratic–indeed, there are many passages where one can’t quite tell which instrument is which, and if U.S. Maple didn’t have some Stump in their diet before they set upon their own deconstructions of rock tropes, I’ll eat my foot. The madcap persona and lyrics of singer Mick Lynch must have made it all seem like a joke to some listeners, and sure, it IS mighty fucking daffy to have the chorus of a single consist of a bug-eyed man with Tintin’s hair shouting “LIGHTS! CAMEL! ACTION!” But then you hear songs like “Living It Down” and “Heartache” and you say “whoa, damn.”
 

 

Living it Down by Stump on Grooveshark

 

Heartache by Stump on Grooveshark

 
Stump split by the end of 1988. A Fierce Pancake was deleted in 1990 and has never been reissued in physical media, except as part of a complete anthology CD set from 2008, which is itself also out of print. In spring 2014, Cherry Red UK will be releasing Does the Fish Have Chips—Early and Late Works 1986-1989, which encompasses all of their recorded output except the LP. So just listen to the LP and enjoy some of their videos here.
 

Stump, A Fierce Pancake, full album
 

 

 
This last one sounds too poor to really represent the song properly, it’s a live fan-cam thing shot from behind the P.A. But in one respect, that’s a boon here, inasmuch as all you can really hear is the astonishing bass player Kevin Hopper. Who plays like this? The man is brilliantly mental.
 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Rats with wings: Surveillance drones of the early 20th century?
04.10.2014
08:05 am

Topics:
History
Unorthodox

Tags:
birds


Julius Gustav Neubronner with carrier pigeon and camera
 
While the reality of drone surveillance (not to mention warfare) often feels like the very cutting edge of a new dystopia, it’s fascinating to remember all the clever (if disturbing) little spy ideas that came before. Julius Gustav Neubronner was a German pharmacist born in 1852, but he’s most famous for his innovations in camera technology—Neubronner was the world’s first pigeon photographer.

He began taking pictures in 1865, around the tender age of 13, when he bought a camera on credit after attempts to take pictures with his father’s old broken one failed. As an adult, he used carrier pigeons to deliver medical supplies to clients, but when one disappeared for nearly a month before returning, he decided to track it’s movements with a small, timed camera. He built, tested, and scrapped a few different camera/pigeon harness rigs before settling on the perfect design, and by 1908, he received a patent. You can see some rigged pigeons below, along with three panoramic pictures from Neubronner’s birds—one even has wings in the shot. The groundbreaking aerial photography won awards and was printed up on postcards, but never managed to make him any money.

Around the first World War, Neubronner’s work was further developed for military use. A Swiss clock-maker tweaked his design for the Swiss Army’s carrier pigeon program, and later, the CIA created a battery-powered pigeon camera for spying. It’s never been confirmed that pigeon photography has been used by the US for espionage, but we do know “war pigeons” were used for communication by the French during World War One, and by the UK and US during World War Two. In fact, in Britain, 34 pigeons have been awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal for their service in war! Not bad for “rats with wings.”
 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Iceland has a penis museum, no biggie


 
The gift of a bull pizzle to Sigurdur Hjartarson in 1974 was the seminal event of a multi-generational Icelandic wang dynasty. Hjartarson’s cock collection grew impressively in size, climaxing with the 1997 consummation of the Icelandic Phallological Museum. Curation was taken over by the fruit of his loins, his son Hjörtur Gísli Sigurðsson, in 2011, the same year the museum moved from the northern fishing town of Húsavík to the capital Reykjavík, and made news for the acquisition of its first human specimen. Coincidence?
 

 

The Icelandic Phallological Museum contains a collection of more than two hundred and fifteen penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals that can be found in Iceland. Visitors to the museum will encounter fifty six specimens belonging to seventeen different kinds of whale, one specimen taken from a rogue polar bear, thirty-six specimens belonging to seven different kinds of seal and walrus, and one hundred and fifteen specimens originating from twenty different kinds of land mammal: all in all, a total of two hundred and nine specimens belonging to forty six different kinds of mammal, including specimens from Homo Sapiens. It should be noted that the museum has also been fortunate enough to receive legally-certified gift tokens for four specimens belonging to Homo Sapiens. Besides there are some twenty-three folklore specimens and forty foreign ones. Altogether the collection contains more than 280 specimens from 93 different species of animals.

280 specimens may seem on the smallish side, but size of course doesn’t count for everything, right? Most of the collection comes from outside donors, the museum’s Honorary Members. But just like many an actual pork sword, the Icelandic Phallological Museum is a source of some confusion and frustration. The museum’s own about page says that this upstanding pillar of its community was founded in Húsavík and moved to Reykjavík, but several news articles say the opposite. Other articles (and the museum’s own web site) herald the 2011 endowment of a human specimen, while a forthcoming documentary film follows the preposterous race to become the first human donor. But coaxing out a load of hard facts isn’t my job here today. I’m really just here to show you gratuitous pictures of penises.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it ironic or appropriate that I was turned on to this by someone named “Pickles?” Just the tip of the hat to you, Marlee, and if you go, I want something from the gift shop.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
British professor claims to have photographed fairies!
04.04.2014
01:15 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Unorthodox

Tags:
Fairies
John Hyatt

ttayhfry.jpg
 
Do you believe in fairies?

Well, if you do, then you may be interested to hear that a lecturer at the Manchester Metropolitan University in England, claims to have photographic proof those legendary mythical creatures of Disney films and childhood imagination actually do exist. Okay.

John Hyatt, Director of Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design at MMU has taken a series of photographs which he says depict these miniature creatures. The photos were taken in the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, over a period of two years.

Mr. Hyatt, 53, a former member of the Punk band The Three Johns, told the Manchester Evening News that the photographs are genuine and have not been altered in any way. He also said that many adults who have seen the photos have reconsidered their opinions about the existence of fairies.

“It was a bit of a shock when I blew them up, I did a double take. I went out afterwards and took pictures of flies and gnats and they just don’t look the same.People can decide for themselves what they are. The message to people is to approach them with an open mind. I think it’s one of those situations where you need to believe to see. A lot of people who have seen them say they have brought a little bit of magic into their lives and there’s not enough of that around.”

Mr. Hyatt is well aware of previous claims about photographs of fairies, and has therefore put the images on display for the public to make up their own mind.

“Everything gets stereotyped, whatever it is.  But there are stranger things in life than fairies, and life grows everywhere. I don’t believe they are just smaller versions of us and go home and have a cup of tea at the end of the day. And one is suggesting they have any special powers. From my experience they were just enjoying themselves and there was a little dance in the sunlight going on. They are just beautiful pictures and beauty can make people believe.”

Read more on the story here, and see more of John Hyatt’s photographs here.
 
22ttayhyrf.jpg
 
33ttayhyyrf.jpg
 

 
Now, here’s some fairies someone else filmed earlier.
 

 
Via the Manchester Evening News

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Me So Thrifty: Econ lecture gets boffo play on adult video site
03.26.2014
06:45 am

Topics:
Sex
Unorthodox

Tags:
Economics

Timothy Taylor
 
You see, there’s this website, Xmovies, dedicated to adults-only videos, and its users have generally been baffled by the appearance of a video called “Division of Labor (Hardcore Economics),” which is the second part of a longer series called, simply, “Economics, 3rd Edition”; it’s part of “The Great Courses” series published by The Teaching Company. In the video, which lasts 31 minutes, Professor Timothy Taylor, managing editor of The Journal of Economic Perspectives, based at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, does an excellent job of breaking down the ideas of William Petty, Bernard de Mandeville, David Hume, Adam Smith, and others. Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Heilbroner are mentioned. It’s pretty dry, compared to the other videos on that site.

At no point does Taylor take off his pants, and the users of the site are, to say the least, bemused. The comments are pretty great. Here’s a (pretty hilarious) sample:
 

“The Teaching Company might not have the production values of Digital Playground or Vivid, and they might not have the chicks either, but whatever, I came twice watching this.”

“When does the porn start, I’m near the end and no action yet? :(”

“wut a nauty slut… i want to watch his marginal revenue product equilibriate, if u kno wut i mean”

“I will tell you I made a sincere effort to actually jack off to this. I stared longingly at his cute boar-ish smile, fantasized about him stuffing his big luscious gob with serving upon serving of poundcake. Do you think he tweaks his nipples after these lectures? I do. I want to. It took me 40 minutes and an extra rundown on the division of labor, but eventually I increased my firm’s production all over the place.”

 
The Kernel managed to get a comment from Prof. Taylor, which ran, “Didn’t know, and so no useful comments. But in some sense, I’m not much surprised. After all, the web is a big place, porn is a substantial chunk of it, and digital content is fairly easy to move.”

Typical economist, he kind of missed the forest for the trees, there.

My theory is that someone, possibly a bot, uploaded the video because it had that particular 8-letter “H-word” in the title, and that this is essentially a misunderstanding, not a prank.

We’re not going to link to the video, but you can find “Division of Labor (Hardcore Economics)”—if that’s what you’re into, freaky—on Xmovies. Don’t worry, it’s totally “safe for work.”

via The Kernel

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Shrek in the orgone box: William Steig’s misanthropic drawings for Wilhelm Reich


 
Cartoonist William Steig is beloved, and rightly so. Starting in the 1930s, his thousands of New Yorker panels (and over 100 covers) made him a giant in the cartooning world, and showed him to be an astute observer and renderer of human nature and the consequences of social class conditions (and a gifted ironist, to boot). His late-in-life career detour into children’s books yielded classics like CDB!, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, and the completely awesome Rotten Island. Then in 1990, he wrote a little 32 page book about an ogre named Shrek, which has been adapted into four massively successful films (so far) and more video game spinoffs than I feel like trying to count. Steig’s gifts were lost to us in 2003, when he died at age 95.

A bit of trivia: Steig was a devotee of the controversial theories of Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich.
 

Wilhelm Reich, after an apparent encounter with David Lynch’s barber
 
There is plenty to read online about Reich, both pro and con, so I will not go into great depth here. Reich was a psychotherapy pioneer, an associate of Freud’s in the 1920s, who went on to adopt some extreme positions. He was blindingly obsessed with the importance of orgasmic potency, and advocated levels of sexual permissiveness that alienated many of his contemporaries. Reich’s later career was devoted to the exploration of a cosmic energy that linked physical and mental/emotional health, “discovered” by and apparently detectable only to him, that he dubbed “orgone.” This led to his construction of supposedly therapeutic devices like the “orgone accumulator,” and “orgone cannons” (“cloudbusters”) that he claimed could be used as rainmaking devices. None of these claims have withstood scientific scrutiny, but they still have impassioned devotees.

US government medical authorities, believing Reich to be not misguided, but in fact a fraudster, won legal injunctions against the distribution of orgone accumulators as unlicensed medical devices in 1954. In 1956, Reich was imprisoned for violating that injunction, and, in one of the most notorious and singularly revolting episodes of official censorship in US history, the government supervised the burning of six tons of Reich’s books, devices, and clinical notes. Reich died in prison before he finished serving his two-year sentence, which, combined with the book burning, made a martyr of him among the types of people who think they can build perpetual motion machines in their garages and those knee-jerky “libertarian” paranoiacs who assume that anything that’s been suppressed MUST BE TRUE. However, despite Reich’s pariah status, there are ideas worth discussing in works like The Mass Psychology of Fascism and The Function of the Orgasm, among others. The title of his 1936 work The Sexual Revolution was certainly prophetic enough.
 

 
Reich and Steig’s works converged in 1949, when, frustrated that his work wasn’t being taken seriously by mainstream science (also a lil’ frustrated that he wasn’t being hailed as a savior of mankind), Reich penned an amazing and engaging screed denouncing the pettiness and stupidity of humanity, called Listen, Little Man! In it, he lambasted humanity for what he, with plentiful justification, saw as an overwhelming laziness in people, who eagerly favored their herd instincts over their greater potential, collaborating in the self-defeating destruction not just of society, but of the species itself, and so become less victim than harbinger. In the wake of WWII (ethnically a Jew, Reich fled Europe in the ‘30s), he saw little in the defeat of the Nazis to convince him that people weren’t just embracing different reasons to goose-step. The book loses some of its potency when you realize that he’s mainly so upset with people because his theories were being rejected, so ultimately you’re reading a self-mythologizing, self-pitying lashing out, a lengthy screed not unlike Bela Lugosi’s famous “I have no home” speech in Bride of the Monster. It’s still a great read if you’re in a misanthropic mood, and it contains wonderful artwork by William Steig.
 

 
Steig had skillfully handled this sort of content before, in his own books About People, The Lonely Ones, and Persistent Faces. Inspired by Picasso and Klee, he abandoned the relatively realistic brush-and-ink drawings that shaped his early fame and moved towards a more stark, abstract style, at once loopy and angular, obeisant only to the emotional truth of a character. And his assessments of wayward humanity became more and more brutal and incisive. This work was caricature as revelation. In his introduction to The Lonely Ones the great New Yorker writer Wolcott Gibbs wrote

Mr. Steig offers us a series of impressions of people set off from the rest of the world by certain private obsessions, usually, it seems, by a devotion to some particularly disastrous clichéd thought or behavior. They are not necessarily unhappy. Some of them, in fact, are obviously only too well pleased with themselves…

Righty Reich…

The illustrations in Listen, Little Man! are obviously well within this particular body of Steig’s work, and they constitute some of its most trenchant examples. It seems clear that this style of Steig’s was shaped to a degree by his therapeutic relationship and friendship with Reich—Steig even wrote the preface to Reich’s Children of the Future. Steig’s follow-up to Listen, The Agony in the Kindergarten, was absolutely a Reichian work, in which Steig BLASTED, with breathtakingly powerful pairings of pain-filled drawings and simple captions, the way Western childhood development can be pockmarked or even derailed by adult repression. Which invariably leads to the cultivation of grownups like those in Listen Little Man!, who really are just awful, awful people.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
‘F for Fake’: Orson Welles on art forgery and what’s really ‘real’


 

If you’ve seen Orson Welles’ late period quasi-documentary F for Fake, then you know about the mysterious art forger Elmyr De Hory. In his freewheeling cinematic essay, Welles explored the funhouse mirror life of de Hory, who found that he had an uncanny knack for being able to paint counterfeits of Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani and Renoir’s work. After some of his fakes were sold to museums and wealthy collectors, suspicions were raised and his legal troubles—and a life spent moving from place to place to avoid the long arm of the law—began.

At the time Welles met up with Elmyr in the early 70s, he was living in Ibiza and had been the subject of Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time written by notorious “biographer” Clifford Irving, who himself figures prominently in the film. During the course of filming F for Fake, Irving (who was later portrayed by Richard Gere in The Hoax), was serendipitously revealed to have forged his own “autobiography” of Howard Hughes (not to mention Hughes’ signature). The resulting film, an essay on the authorship of “truth” in art, is a dazzling, intellectuality challenging masterpiece that can never quite decide if it’s a fake documentary about a fake painter of fake masterpieces who himself was the subject of a fake biographer… or what it is. (It’s no wonder that Robert Anton Wilson was such a fan of F for Fake, which figures prominently in his book, Cosmic Trigger II).

 

image
Self-portrait of Elmyr de Hory, approx. 1970, recently discovered in France.

F or Fake also calls into question the nature of “genius”: If Elmyr’s forgeries were good enough to pass off as Picasso or Modigliani’s work, or even to hang in museums under the assumption that they were the work of these masters, wouldn’t Elmyr’s genius be of equal or even nearly equal value to theirs? (Worth noting that it was ego that got in the way of Elmyr’s scam at several points in his life: He was often left apoplectic at hearing how much crooked art dealers were making from his paintings!)

De Hory’s former bodyguard and driver, Mark Forgy, has kept Elmyr’s archive since his suicide in December 1976. In recent years Mr. Forgy has been trying to make more sense of Elmyr’s odd life. From the New York Times:

“I’m so far down the rabbit hole,” Ms. Marvin said in a recent phone interview, “I’m just not going to rest until I find out who this man is.”

A few weeks ago, she and Mr. Forgy traveled to western France and unrolled a dozen de Hory paintings that had been discovered in a farmhouse’s attic. In Budapest, they found birth records, dated 1906, for Elemer Albert Hoffmann, son of Adolf and Iren. No one knows when Elemer upgraded his name, or how he financed art studies in Munich and Paris before moving to New York in 1947.

He claimed that his father was a Roman Catholic and a diplomat, but the Budapest ledgers list Adolf as a Jewish merchant. The Nazis killed his entire family, Mr. de Hory said. But a cousin named Istvan Hont visited the artist’s villa on Ibiza, where Mr. Forgy was working at various times as a chauffeur, secretary and gardener. Mr. Hont, it turns out, was the forger’s brother.

Mr. Forgy knew that his boss copied masterpieces but did not much question their life on Ibiza, in which they kept company with celebrities like Marlene Dietrich and Ursula Andress. “I accepted the amazing with a nonchalance,” Mr. Forgy said in a recent phone interview. Mr. de Hory was the focus of Orson Welles’s 1974 documentary “F for Fake,” and Clifford Irving breathlessly titled his book “Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time.”

After Mr. de Hory’s suicide, Mr. Forgy returned to Minnesota. “I went into deep seclusion” working as a night watchman and house restorer, he said. He held onto the papers and paintings. “I have schlepped them around endlessly,” he said. “The walls here in the house look like the Pitti Palace in Florence.”

His wife, Alice Doll, encouraged him in recent years to examine the stacks of false passports, Hungarian correspondence and Swiss arrest reports. Ms. Marvin contacted him last year. She had helped organize a show about faked and stolen art at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, including a portrait of a pensive brunette by Mr. de Hory imitating Modigliani.

The researchers are now raising money for the documentary, developing an exhibition for the Budapest Art Fair in November and preparing to interview a nonagenarian de Hory cousin in Germany. They also plan to send paintings for lab analysis. “We’re trying to create a forensics footprint of his work,” Ms. Marvin said.

They already know that Mr. de Hory tore blank pages out of old books for sketching paper and bought paintings at flea markets to scrape and recycle the canvases. His fakes have become collectibles. Last fall, at a Bonhams auction in England, a buyer paid more than $700 for a seascape of crowded sailboats, with a forged Raoul Dufy signature on the front and “Elmyr” on the back.

Elmyr website

F for Fake is on Hulu and YouTube.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
This dental practice training calendar is THE must-have 2014 calendar
12.09.2013
10:15 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Unorthodox

Tags:
Teeth
Calendars


 
Okay, so these images are from the FrasacoUSA! 2013 calendar, but there has to be one for 2014, right?! I mean, I don’t think I can live without one now that I know of its existence. It’s a “good Lord, WTF am I looking at!” work of art.

Sadly, I can’t seem to locate a 2014 calendar on the FransacoUSA! site, but here’ a link to where you can contact them. Maybe if enough people demand ‘em, they’ll make ‘em? They.Just.Have.To.


 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Fred Willard meets Stalking Cat
12.05.2013
12:06 pm

Topics:
Television
Unorthodox

Tags:
Fred Willard
Dennis Avner


 
On this episode of the VH1 documentary series Totally Obsessed, which I think ran in 2004, Fred Willard hosts a segment on Dennis Avner, self-styled “Stalking Cat”—he appears to have had his name legally changed—who underwent an ambitious series of body modifications (tattoos, implants, piercings) in a largely successful effort to become a feline-human hybrid. Avner passed away under mysterious circumstances in 2012. 

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Avner spent time in the Navy as a sonar technician. According to his obituary in Modblog, he “identified strongly with his feline totem animals and in what he told me was a Huron traditional of actually adopting the physical form of ones totem, he transformed himself not just into a tiger, but a female tiger at that, blurring and exploring the gender line as much as the species line.”

As the Seattle Times reported in 2005, “He has had all his teeth removed and replaced with tigerlike dentures and fangs. He has had his lip split to resemble the mouth of a cat. He has six stainless-steel mounts implanted on his forehead and 18 piercings above his lip to which he can attach whiskers. He has had nose and brow implants, and silicone cheek, chin and lip injections. The tips of his ears are pointed. And he has so many tattoos they almost cover his body.”

I confess that I find the segment difficult to watch. On the one hand, I’m glad that Avner/Stalking Cat was able to pursue the life he wanted—on the other hand, one has to wonder about the possibility of body dysmorphic disorder or some other form of mental illness and a chosen life of exclusion from most of life’s offerings. It appears that he did have close friends who supported him, including but not limited to the furry community and the body modification community. 
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Andy Kaufman punks ‘The Dating Game,’ 1978
12.02.2013
11:50 am

Topics:
Television
Unorthodox

Tags:
Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman
 
Andy Kaufman’s stretch as an object of cultural attention was surprisingly short, 1975 to 1984, yet he packed a remarkable number of first-rate stunts into that time, including boorishly challenging to beat any female alive at wrasslin’ and spending his off-days as a key player on the sitcom Taxi bussing tables at Jerry’s Famous Deli in Studio City, California.

One of his finest instigations came in 1978, when he somehow inveigled his way onto the set of The Dating Game as a contestant vying for the favor of comely Patrice Burke, identified in host Jim Lange’s intro as a “chronic disco dancer” who wants to know whether “the Hustle [can] really clear up the stress in the lower tract” (your guess is as good as mine). In hindsight it’s clear that Kaufman was in full-on Latka Gravas mode on this occasion, although in the guise of “Baji Kimran.”
 
Jim Lange
Bumfuzzled Jim Lange
 
It’s a pity, really, that Kaufman’s refusal to play by the games of the entertainment industry precluded a regular career as a thespian, because his acting here is truly nonpareil. Note at 3:30 his convincingly guileless inability to understand the rules of the show, responding to the prompt “I’ll do anything for you, except—“ with “Except what?” There’s no break in character, no laughing that gives the game away. At one point “Baji” even solicits assistance from his clueless fellow bachelors. At the end of the show “Baji” (somewhat implausibly) engages in a minor meltdown because of the inherent unfairness in Patrice choosing studly Bachelor #1 even though “Baji” had “answered all de questions right!”

What a brilliant way to explode the witless, salacious premises of The Dating Game—by denying their very existence.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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