Under a black sun farmworkers labor in fields. They harvest crops oblivious to the strange eclipse in the skies above them. On closer inspection the sun is perhaps a spot on the lens. Or a camera fault, or perhaps a mistake in printing. There are more photographs, but here the faces of the farmworkers have been devoured by this black spot—eaten like a cancer. It’s now apparent these black dots, these black holes, have been deliberately made.
During the 1930’s Great Depression the US Government set up the Farm Security Administration to help combat the country’s rural poverty. As part of the FSA’s remit was a photography project set up by Roy Stryker to document the lives of the people who lived and worked on the land.
Stryker hired some of the best photographers of the day such as Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, and Edwin and Louise Rosskam, among many, many others. The photographers were briefed as to what the FSA wanted documented. When the rolls of film were sent back from locations across the USA, Stryker rigorously examined each and every negative. His system for discarding images was brutal—he used a hole punch to pierce any negative he didn’t like—making it unusable.
It is not known on exactly what grounds Stryker rejected an image. Was it aesthetic reasons? Bad teeth, ugly people? Political? Images of farm life that did not coincide with the government’s desires narrative? Whichever—of the 164,000 developed negatives, only around 77,000 were made available for use. That’s a helluva lot of rejected photographs.
Stryker’s vandalism killed many historic and irreplaceable photographs. Of those that remain, Stryker’s hole punch handiwork has created strange yet still compelling images. Some conspiracy theorists suggest the photos were censored because of UFOs, or strange deformities, or odd background figures—and similar flights of fancy. In truth they were probably censored because the reality of human deprivation never sits easy with a government’s self-image.
I think one can safely assume that artist John Baldessari is well aware of these images.
More of striking examples of Stryker’s censorship, after the jump….
I’ve called our readers’ attention to the work of comedy genius Vic Berger a couple times before here on DM, and here I am doing it again for his mega-incredible “Batman v Trump: Official Trailer.”
In this his newest masterpiece, Berger takes his political pop culture détourné art form to another level. He’s the culture jammer extraordinaire of YouTube. SNL, The Daily Show, Jimmy Kimmel… Hollywood needs to hire this man now. One of the best, most-effective anti-Trump propaganda memes yet, and obviously there have been tons of them.
In July, the $101 million “Ark Encounter” water park will open in Kentucky and now a group calling themselves the Tri-State Freethinkers—representing exasperated non-believers in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana—are seeking to raise some money in order to put up billboards trolling the Creationist-themed amusement park. The Ark Encounter destination is specifically a water park based on the myth of Noah’s Ark. The park, created by a consortium of investors headed by creationist Ken Ham—the hapless silly person who debated Bill Nye—and his “Answers in Genesis” group, includes a 510-ft model of Noah’s Ark and an interactive teaching exhibit that er… uh… “teaches” the rather silly notion that it was in fact the Great Flood which separated the world’s continents.
The first $2,000 raised by the campaign—which they have done already—will go toward setting up a single small billboard for a month. If they’re able to raise $6,000, the group will be able to mount six small billboards or one big one along an interstate highway.
If they are able to raise $150 million, the Tri-State Freethinkers say “we will build our very own Genocide & Incest Park.” The group, which has over 1300 members, are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so your donations are tax-deductible.
Writer, musician, raconteur Dave Hill is the author of the upcoming comic anthology Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Dave Hill is a very, very funny man. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Dick Cavett, Andy Richter, Malcolm Gladwell and John Hodgman also think he’s pretty hilarious. John Oliver must like Dave, too, because he uses “Go” by Dave’s band, Valley Lodge, as the jaunty theme tune for his Last Week Tonight with John Oliver show on HBO. Apparently Samantha Bee is a Hill fan, as well, since she had Dave on her new Full Frontal program earlier this week, serenading some college-educated Donald Trump supporters with a little ditty he’d composed about Trump especially for the occasion (see below).
And Dave actually knows what he’s singing about from experience. He really knows Donald Trump. Or at least he is—or was—once very, very briefly acquainted with the Donald for about an hour or so back in 2004…
The year was 2004. Both NBC’s The Apprentice and really fun cell-phone ringtones had taken an unsuspecting public by storm. I had managed to elude both—I kept my phone on vibrate and was ready to stare in bemusement at anyone even thinking of telling me I had been “fired.”
But I needed money, so when the call came to write ringtones for Donald Trump, a quiet businessman from Queens who had been reluctantly thrust into the spotlight by the seventh-most popular program on network television at the time, I said yes. I had been doing some freelance writing and one of my clients was among the tangle of corporations assigned to the case. Fortunately, they decided to throw me a bone.
Of course, I knew a thing or two about Trump already. He had flawless hair; he slept on piles of money each night; given the choice between having something not gold-plated or entirely gold-plated, he chose door number two every time. Still, I wanted to do the best job possible, so I had one of Trump’s minions send me copies of two of his books, Trump: The Art of the Deal and Trump: The Art of the Comeback, as well as an anatomically correct Trump doll that would tell me all sorts of things every time I pressed its back, something I couldn’t help but do repeatedly as soon as it came into my possession.
“You really think you’re a good leader?” the doll would ask, seemingly out of the blue. “I don’t.”
A little harsh, maybe, but also something I probably needed to hear.
Despite all the hours I spent playing with that doll, though, I had my work cut out for me. Somehow, in what I can only assume was the result of someone putting a gun to Trump’s head, NBC owned the rights to his electrifying catchphrase “You’re fired!” The challenge was mine to figure out what else he might say—to write some slogans people might want to hear coming out of their phones besides those two magical words that had already galvanized a nation.
“Your services are no longer required at this place of business!”
“Please stop showing up here for work, okay?”
“Die, you anus!”
These are but a few of the alternatives to “You’re fired!” that I proposed. In the end, though, it was decided that Trump’s ringtone avatar would be less cutthroat and more inspirational, encouraging cell-phone users to answer promptly so they could take advantage of a big business opportunity or maybe just hurt someone’s feelings. I whipped up a few dozen Trumpist gems. Track ‘em down if you like; I imagine they’re still out there somewhere, priced to move.
“This is Donald Trump. I have no choice but to tell you . . . you’re getting a phone call.”
“I’m Donald Trump and this is the call of a lifetime!”
“This is Donald Trump. Answer your phone now—it might be me calling.”
Maybe not my finest hour, but, hey—the customer is always right. After that, I assumed my work was done, but I ended up being asked to attend the actual taping, too, at none other than Trump Tower.
“You mean I’ll actually be in the room while Donald is saying the stuff I wrote?” I asked a guy from the ringtone concern.
“Yes,” he said, placing a hand on my shoulder for emphasis. This was officially about to be the biggest thing anyone in my family had ever done, including fighting in wars or any of that other crap my older relatives always went on about. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to tell them.
“I’m working with Donald Trump,” I told my mom over the phone.
“Who?” my mom asked.
“Donald Trump,” I told her. “The guy from The Apprentice.”
“David got a job with Tony Crump,” my mom yelled to my dad in the next room.
“That’s nice,” my dad yelled back.
They were pumped.
When the big day rolled around, I put on a suit and tie and worked as many hair products into my scalp as possible before heading over to Trump’s offices in midtown Manhattan to meet the other dozen or so people required to complete a task of this magnitude.
As expected, Trump HQ was beyond opulent. It was as if a blind decorator had been given an unlimited budget and told he’d never work in this town again.
“This way, please,” a Trump representative, who was difficult to focus on amid all that sparkle, said before leading us to a conference room. Along the way, I spotted Donald Jr. sitting in an adjacent office, his hair perfect, as he no doubt bought or sold something without even thinking about it. It ruled.
“You have one hour,” the rep announced, prompting everyone in the conference room to spring into action, turning it into a makeshift recording studio. A few minutes later, the doors opened and in walked Trump, somehow looking even Trumpier than I’d anticipated. He wore a suit and tie and, of course, his trademark scowl. And though he stood mere feet from me, I found I had no further insight into his hair-care regimen. Looking into his coiffure did nothing to demystify it. In fact, it only confused me more.
“Right this way, Mr. Trump,” a ringtone specialist said, gently urging him toward the microphones while being careful not to actually touch him.
“Let’s make this quick,” Trump grunted, already sounding like the ringtones I’d written. “I’ve got a busy day ahead of me.” At this point, a mild panic set in as everyone in the room became convinced he or she might very well be “fired” or at least told to wait by the elevators at any moment. As for me, though, I couldn’t help but relax a bit; it had suddenly occurred to me that Trump might not be the oblivious blowhard everyone thinks. I mean, sure, he was a blowhard, maybe even the biggest blowhard of all time, but he also seemed totally self-aware, like he knew he was just playing a character, and that as soon as we left, he’d run into Ivanka’s office, shut the door behind him, and squeal, “I got ‘em again, honey!” Something about that made me actually kind of like the guy, if I sat there and thought about it long enough.
Moments later, after a technician had scrambled to hit any and all record buttons, Trump began barreling through the ringtones, printed on large cue cards that would remain easily readable even when he squinted judgmentally, which was always. Occasionally he’d give emphasis to a different word or see if getting angrier might help sell things a bit more. Meanwhile, everyone else in the room remained pinned to the wall, just trying to get through the proceedings intact.
Things seemed to be going well enough until about twenty minutes later, when Trump paused abruptly and began scanning the room in the manner that, by now, haunts people’s dreams the world over.
“Who wrote these things?” he barked, pointing at the cue cards like he wanted them taken out back and shot.
“That guy! Dave Hill!” at least five people volunteered in unison, their tone suggesting they would happily stab me right then and there if Trump would just say the word.
I figured I might start gathering my things at this point, but before I could, Trump looked at me, dropped his scowl, and said, “You’re a very good writer.”
“Thanks,” I said with a nod, sensing a trap. For the remaining forty minutes or so of the recording session, Trump refused to address anyone in the room but me. Others tried to intervene, but as soon as they finished talking, Trump would turn to me, his right-hand man, and ask, “What do you think, Dave?”
It was a weird kind of trust to have earned, sure, but it was also kind of cool—especially considering that otherwise I probably would have been just sitting at home scanning Craigslist for missed connections.
As the session wrapped up, I recalled something else I’d learned about Trump through my tireless research: he hates shaking hands. Naturally, this made my mission clear. This will be the true test of our love, I thought as I stood waiting for any others brazen enough to approach Trump to say whatever they were gonna say with their hands glued to their sides before get- ting the hell out of his sight, dammit.
With the path clear, I approached him for some bro time.
“Nice working with you, Donald,” I told him.
“You, too, Dave,” he said.
“Thanks,” I replied. I gingerly extended my hand. I could feel eyebrows across the room rising in slow-motion panic.
Will he? Won’t he?
Against all odds, Trump slowly reached out and grabbed my hand, shaking it not so firmly, as if to suggest his henchmen might be waiting for me outside and not so softly as if to suggest a quality hang in Montauk was off the table. No, this was just right—perfect, in fact, almost like he was a regular human being who had done this sort of thing before. All these years later, that shake still feels like a victory of some sort, but I’m not sure for whom.
As I sit here writing this in my underpants, Donald Trump continues his disturbing bid for the American presidency. And I find myself hoping more than ever that he really is only playing a character, that maybe he’s just the greatest performance artist of our time, a modern-day Warhol or slightly chattier Marina Abramovíc who will any day now say “Tada!” and take a bow, then go open an all-you-can-eat shrimp joint in the Outer Banks or something.
With each passing day, I fear I may be wrong. Still, whatever happens, it’ll always be nice to look back on that day at Trump Tower and think, “Sure, he’s a hate-spewing boob who somehow manages to sound even angrier and crazier than that doll I still can’t help but drag out from under the bed every once in awhile…and, yes, he’s even got that certain awful something to win the endorsement of the unicellular Sarah Palin. But put the two of us in a room together for an hour and, goddamn, do that son of a bitch and I make one hell of a ringtone.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium. It is the major city within the nineteen municipalities that make up the Brussels-Capital Region.
Since the end of the Second World War, Brussels has been home to a large population of politicians, diplomats, civil servants, businesses and industrialists. It is closely tied to the European Union and has been dubbed the “de facto capital” of the European Union since the 1970s. It’s Europe’s Washington. DC.
Brussels is where the European Commission (that august government branch of the EU) and the Council of the European Union (the well-respected legislative body made up of those jolly executives of member states) are based. It is city that represents the humanitarian values of a civilized and prosperous Europe.
Not so long ago, indeed within living memory, Brussels was the last bastion of a racist sideshow called the “human zoo.”
In 1958 Brussels held the first World’s Fair since the end of the Second World War. Between April and October of that year, the Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Bruxelles gave testament to the shared ideals of equality and fraternity, the innovation of industry and a very real humanitarian hope for a peaceful and prosperous future.
Among the many major exhibits at Expo 58 that celebrated this hope for a better world were the massive building-cum-sculpture the Atomium—or “load of balls” as some have since described it—designed by engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André & Jean Polak; and the Philips Pavilion where composer Edgard Varèse premiered his seminal eight minute work Poème électronique—which followed a naive and simplistic narrative of the development of life and civilization towards a universal “harmony.”
In amongst all these space age wonders and exhibits from countries across the world was the Belgian Pavilion. Here visitors could find all that was best about Belgium including one small enclosure where the public flocked to pet and feed the exhibits.
Look here comes one now. A middle-aged matron in finely cut dress, coat and hat, wearing early designer sunglasses. Doesn’t she look chic? Let’s watch as this no doubt charming woman leans over the fence that surrounds the enclosure to feed one of the humans inside—a small black girl.
Horrendous isn’t it? Shocking. Horrific. Unbelievable. Like some dystopian sci-fi movie.
But to the 41 million people who visited Expo 58 this scene of unbridled racism caused little concern to the public—no upset, and no fury. No nothing.
You’d think after the racist atrocities of the Second World War that maybe, just maybe, Europeans might have developed a little more respect for their fellow man. But no, apparently not.
Human zoos, where white Europeans could go and see people from other ethnic backgrounds exhibited in cages, or in specially built villages for entertainment purposes is one of the biggest, dirtiest, and most shameful racist “secrets” of European history. Which no amount of saying “the past is a different country, they did things differently there” will ever excuse.
A poster advertising a ‘human zoo’ in Paris.
This wasn’t the Middle Ages. This was 1958. The year NASA was formed. The year the microchip was invented. The year the American Express card was introduced. When the hula-hoop was the #1 toy. When Elvis Presley joined the US Army. When Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield were the world’s pinups. When The Bridge on the River Kwai cleaned up at the Oscars and Steve McQueen terrified audience in his fight with The Blob. When the Yankees won the World Series and Brazil took the World Cup. The year the forerunner of the EU, the European Economic Community (EEC) was formed. This is within our pop culture timeline of rock ‘n’ roll, drugs and teenage rebellion. Your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents might even have attended themselves.
It’s definitely worth your time to watch “Hail to the Trump,” Vanity Fair’s darkly funny Team America-esque glimpse of what a Donald Trump presidency might be like, performed by marionettes.
Produced and directed by Condé Nast’s Rachel Samuels and written by longtime Vanity Fair editor Bruce Handy, the marionettes were operated by a fellow named Scott Land. The first episode debuted on YouTube on November 9th with the latest installment coming out today.
I like how they parachuted into this with an outgoing President Barack Obama welcoming President-elect Trump to the Oval Office. It’s even more of a satiric gut-kick picturing Obama, of all people, having to play nice with the short-fingered vulgarian “birther” billionaire before his swearing in, because you know damned well Trump probably would act just like this.
After the jump, President Trump gets into a Twitter-war with the Kardashians and HATES his Secret Service code name…
Earlier this year Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) made a fucking idiotic attempt at “humor” by tweeting that it was a “Chick-fil-A kind of day” after the Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage. Louisiana, if you go from Bobby Jindal to this goddamn fool, you’ll have gone from utterly terrible to someone far, far worse. Don’t do it.
During Tuesday night’s Louisiana gubernatorial debate, Sen. David Vitter, the GOP candidate criticized his Democratic opponent John Bel Edwards—an Army Ranger—for releasing a “vicious, negative” political ad that Vitter contended, was offensive to veterans.
Louisiana gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards (D) didn’t need to utter the word “prostitution” for viewers of Tuesday night’s debate to understand that he was hitting Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) over his involvement in the 2007 “D.C. Madam” scandal.
“Hundreds of veterans have contacted me,” Edwards said, “and they wanted to know that you were missing out on your public performance of your duties in Congress in order to engage in those extracurricular activities that you don’t want to admit to.”
Vitter had just criticized Edwards, a state representative, for releasing a “vicious negative ad” that he said offended veterans. The ad was released last week and juxtaposed Edwards’ service as an Army Ranger with the claim that Vitter “answered a prostitute’s call minutes after he skipped a vote honoring 28 soldiers who gave their lives in defense of our freedom.”
“David Vitter chose prostitutes over patriots,” the ad’s narrator intoned. “Now, the choice is yours.”
Vitter must not have seen the same ad I saw because frankly I can’t imagine even a single vet being offended by Edwards’ ad. I can quite easily see them being highly offended by Vitter’s shenanigans, but not so much at Edwards for pointing that out so… well, viciously and negatively. I mean how do you gingerly mention that your political opponent has a hooker problem? And why would you care to downplay it or tiptoe around it?
The amazing thing, to my mind, is that Vitter has never really had to answer to this… er… shit before. Being a proud “family values” Southern Republican, naturally Vitter professed “regret” for his “very serious sin” (actually crimes in both Louisiana and Washington) in a 2007 press conference with his wife beside him and I guess Baby Jesus just up and hosed all of that sin right off ‘im. He’s apparently Teflon-coated, because over the years Vitter has paid very little political price—as in nothing whatsoever—for his very public prostitution scandal. The Democrats have tried, oh how they have tried, but nothing ever really stuck to the Senator like a poop-filled diaper should.
I thought I’d seen a few vicious political ads in my day, but this one is unique. Watch “The Choice” below:
After the jump, a previous attempt to get the word out to Louisiana voters about David Vitter’s “messy” prostitution scandal from 2010
Our Philadelphian readers may know PYT, home of insanely gimmicky culinary constructions like the Deep-Fried Twinkie Burger, Chicken Bacon Eggo Sliders, and the Cocoa Krispies Chicken Burger. That restaurant has expanded to New York, specifically to 334 Bowery, former home of one location of Forcella Pizzeria, and more recently, the extremely short-lived Espoleta. Though rents in the city’s one-time Skid Row are no longer Skid Row cheap, PYT surely has no desire to be yet another bygone in that location, and they may have hit upon their rent-making gimmick: The Basquiat Prime Beef Burger, named for the great painter Jean-Michel Basquiat and priced at $64. Each. Look, I’m a total sucker for gimmicky sandwich places; whether it’s Kuma’s in Chicago, Melt in Cleveland, whatever, I’m all in for ridiculous shit like that. But I doubt I need to belabor the point that $64 for a burger seems beyond excessive even for Manhattan.
A 1982 Basquiat work, Untitled (The Black Athlete), just sold for 6.3 million, meaning that the Basiquiat burger is just a buck off from being 100,000 times less expensive than an actual Basquiat painting. And arguably, the figure in the painting could be interpreted as triumphantly brandishing a burger. Arguably. Very, very arguably.
But what do you get for your money? Per the restaurant’s tumblr, it’s made with “100% fresh 25% fat Wagyu Ribeye sourced from the NYC’s greatest Wagyu source, the ninjas at Japan Premium Beef.” OK, then, in that case I suppose we’ll generously take it on faith that that tastes $50 better than a regular upscale burger. The sandwich came to be named for the painter, not because it looks like his work, after the manner of the offerings at SFMOMA’s rooftop coffee bar—though I’d actually respect the hell out of that, and I find it curious that photos of the actual burger seem like they’re nowhere to be found online. (How is it possible that nobody’s Instagramed their $64 burger?) The sandwich is so named because the painter died of a heroin overdose literally around the corner on Great Jones Street. If any DM readers in Lower Manhattan are feeling lavish enough to take this one for the team and try one, we’d love to know if it’s worth the money, or at least if it’s a fit tribute to the artist. We’re guessing no way in hell on both counts, but we’re willing to listen.
Kathleen Tonn, a failed, former Republican U.S. Senate candidate who gained infamy briefly for displaying her “gift” of speaking in tongues, decided to wave a tampon around as she addressed city officials in Anchorage, Alaska, last night in a nonsensical anti-gay rights rant. Tonn carried a briefcase full of props into to the meeting of the Anchorage assembly. She pulled a Bible from her case and said “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. You like my trumpet? It’s a sound heard around the world.”
“Since one of my brethren introduced the King James Bible, since I represent the Lord Jesus Christ the great I am, I’m going to add to your public document and your public record from the public document of the great I am,” Tonn told baffled officials.
“Starting with, oh my — a tampon,” she said, pulling a feminine hygiene product from between the pages of her Bible. “Reminds me that little girls in pubescence get periods — female girls.”
Tonn, who is probably best known for a video she posted online showing herself fully clothed and speaking in tongues in a sauna, then angrily read a lengthy passage from the Second Epistle of Peter describing God’s wrathful judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah.
“Now, since you want to create some ordinance to avoid discrimination for members of our community who engage in, I perceive, unhealthy, ungodly behavior, you might want to consider creating an ordinance for one who speaks in tongues.”
Or perhaps summoning a van where people wearing all white uniforms bring you a nice comfy straightjacket and forcibly medicate you?
Dick Traini, the assembly chairman finally said “Ma’am, your time is up. Thank you for your testimony.”
How long will it take—how many decades, how many more centuries if we’re really unlucky—before the Christianity virus just completely and utterly burns itself out? At what point will there just simply be no more use for it and we’ll all just give up the (holy) ghost once and for all, call it a day AND MOVE ON?
I don’t have a prediction to make about that—Voltaire, who died in 1778, once wrote that he thought religion would die out in twenty years time—but I can say with some assurance (and even gratitude!) that idiot Palm Springs-based televangelist Joshua Mills is doing his very best to make people shake their heads in DISBELIEF and walk out of the church, hopefully never to return. Mills has claimed in the past that God can whiten teeth better than dentists and remove wrinkles better than Botox.
Here on the Internet talk show, It’s Supernatural with Sid Roth, Mills relates the story of how God covered him in glitter in an elevator in Toronto. Three onlookers in the elevator were saved before the doors even opened again. But best of all, they reenact this “anointing”! Hilarity ensues! Sid makes George Noory seem skeptical and it’s too bad that they didn’t have Mills play himself, that was really a missed opportunity if you ask me.