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‘The Complete Zap Comix’ box set is the greatest thing in the history of the world, ever


 
Over the Halloween weekend I was visiting my family in Wheeling, WV (it was my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary) and I needed to buy a cheap one-hitter to help get me through it. There’s only one place to buy that sort of thing in my hometown and this would be Wheeling’s sole smut emporium, the very downmarket Market Street News.

Thirty-five years ago, in better economic times for that town, Market Street News was still a dirty book store, but back then it also sold bongs, rolling papers, fake drugs like “Lettuce Opium” or “Coke Snuff,” British rock mags, National Lampoon, biker rags like Easy Rider and Iron Horse, High Times and a small handful of underground comics. A bead curtain separated the front of the shop from the over 21 area and the place smelled heavily of incense, cigarettes and Pine-Sol. It was here, age 11, where I bought my first issue of High Times, the October 1977 issue with Johnny Rotten on the cover and the now infamous “Ted Nugent shits his pants to get out of the draft” interview. What kind of degenerate sold a little kid High Times?

Let me assure you that I was not an innocent child. By that age, I’d already read Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce!!, I owned a copy of Naked Lunch and had already tried getting high (unsuccessfully) by eating fresh ground nutmeg and morning glory seeds, something I’d read about in that book’s infamous index section. I wanted to do drugs, I just didn’t know where to get ‘em (aside from “Lettuce Opium,” which yes, I admit that I tried.“Coke Snuff,” too!)

I couldn’t “score” real drugs, but at the age of 11, in a low level smut shop in a podunk West Virginia town, I was able to get my mitts on something equally mind-expanding (and only slightly less illicit): Zap Comix. Lewd, crude, incendiary, mind-blowing in the extreme and incredibly smart, I embraced Zap Comix wholeheartedly, even if I, a sixth grader, was considerably younger than the audience of “adult intellectuals” it was ostensibly intended for.
 

 
Although Zap founder Robert Crumb himself was already a very well-known and widely respected artist and counterculture hero by the time I discovered Zap in 1977, I can’t image that it was too much earlier than 1973 or ‘74 that something like Zap Comix would have had the kind of distribution that would have allowed it filter down to small town America. The first (#0) issue of Zap came out in 1968. Not every small town had a head shop at that time, of course, and even when they did, carrying Zap Comix—which presented some completely insane stuff, images WAY more perverse than anything that was being cooked up in Denmark or Sweden at the time—was probably not worth the heat it would bring, especially in that line of work. If they can bust you for selling bongs, why carry filthy and obscene comic books to further tempt fate?

Most people probably found out about Zap generally around the same time I did, no matter what age they were. Unless you were living in a big city or in a college town, it would have been highly unlikely to have encountered it otherwise. This is why I associate Zap with the punk era. At least that’s when a copy first made it into my young hands.

Crumb did the first two issues on his own before ultimately assembling a “Magnificent Seven” of the best underground artists around—San Francisco poster artists Rick Griffin and Victor Moscoso, Marxist biker cartoonist Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton (the creator of “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers”), painter Robert Williams, the demented S. Clay Wilson and later, after Griffin’s death, Paul Mavrides, known for his Church of the Subgenius graphics. The Zapatistas were a sort of “supergroup”—the dharma warriors of comics. Inkslingers. Revolutionaries. The best of the best. Their only yardsticks for comparison were each other and that sort of fraternal competition raised the bar and kept their art constantly evolving and their social satire razor sharp.
 

 
Like punk (and Burroughs, Lenny Bruce, Firesign Theatre and John Waters) Zap Comix kind of helped to deprogram me at a young age during my rustbelt Christian upbringing. My deeply religious parents never looked twice at my “funnie books” but if they had they’d have been utterly appalled, finding between the covers of Zap Comix characters like S. Clay Wilson’s gay pirate “Captain Pissgums” who liked to have his crew of perverts, um, piss in his mouth or the “Checkered Demon,” a randy devil cheerfully doing the most obscene things that I’d ever seen depicted on the printed page. It was shocking then and it’s equally shocking today.

Take a look at this short piece from S. Clay Wilson titled “Head First”—IF YOU DARE.

See what I mean? Remind yourself that this strip is now nearly half a century old. The reason I linked to it is because embedding it would probably have made our advertisers very nervous about what kind of people we are! Crumb’s Zap contributions were never as out and out repulsive as Wilson’s, yet he was still utterly fearless in portraying his own infantile sexual fantasies and neuroses (and finding willing groupies to help him act them out along the way. Which he then wrote about in subsequent issues of Zap. Heavy meta…).

The goalposts have moved quite a bit over the decades as “obscenity” has been redefined by culture, AND YET that vile, hilariously fucked up strip has lost virtually none of its power to offend. This is only one of the reasons to love S. Clay Wilson—whose work ultimately sets the tone of Zap because his is the wildest, most feral and least compromising—his willingness to basically puke on his reader’s sensibilities, no matter how “far out” they think they are. The sole purpose is to be brutally offensive, no more no less. You can look for something deeper, go ahead, but I’m not sure you’re going to find it in a piece like “Come Fix” (click for pdf) in which a lesbian biker chick injects semen intravenously with an interesting result.
 

The front and back cover of Zap #14 by S. Clay Wilson
 
In the context of the late 1960s that was something both sickening and ENLIGHTENING. And it had nothing whatsoever to do with flower power or hippie. Zap Comix was cynical and dark, twisted and perverted, full of “gags, jokes, kozmic trooths.” Zap wasn’t interested in persuading you of anything, it wanted to beat its epiphanies into you.

This is another reason I see Zap Comix as being aligned with punk, because philosophically-speaking it was. Indeed in its crudeness, lewdness and desire to shake its readers out of their complacency, Zap anticipates punk (and a lot of other things!) and surely would have influenced many of punk’s prime movers who undoubtedly were exposed to it.

Anyway, when I bought my one-hitter, I got into a conversation with the guy behind the counter and I mentioned that I used to buy Zap Comix there when I was a kid. Then the very next morning in the hotel I read an article in the New York Times about how Fantagraphics were publishing the complete run of Zap, along with a sixteenth and final issue, in a deluxe slipcase box set weighing over 20 lbs, complete with sixteen high quality giclée prints of each Zap Comix cover.
 

The front and back cover of Zap #13 by Victor Moscoso
 
I immediately wrote to Fantagraphics fab director of publicity Jacq Cohen and requested a review copy of The Complete Zap Comix. It was sent Fedex two-day shipping, which seemed to me to be the longest two days of my entire fucking life. An eternity. In fact, it ended up being a day late, and by that time, I was truly salivating over the prospect of its arrival. I was not disappointed. I’m a man with a lot of toys and The Complete Zap Comix went immediately into my “prized possessions” category. If you’re reading this thinking “Yep, I need that” trust me, you do need it. However, as far as pricey Christmas presents to yourself go, you might not want to wait for Santa to lay this one under your tree because it’s probably going to sell out. Only 2500 have been printed and from what I can tell anecdotally from how many friends of mine are buying it, it won’t last long.

The irony of turning something that was once sold in dirty bookstores into a $500 collectible is delicious, but I can’t think of a more deserving title than Zap. The production quality of The Complete Zap Comix is first rate and the pages are clearer than they’ve ever been, blown up to 9.75” x 13.25” and painstakingly cleaned up digitally. Everything comes in a sturdy, gold-embossed slipcase and there’s a separate book dedicated to “The Zap Story,” an oral history/scrapbook that also reprints some Zap rarities and “jams” where each of the artists would complete a frame or two—upping the ante in the process—and then pass it on to the next guy.

In the title here, I declare that The Complete Zap Comix box set “is the greatest thing in the history of the world, ever” and I’m only semi-exaggerating. Seeing the whole of the Zap run laid out like this, it seems obvious—so very, very obvious—what a profound and truly American cultural treasure this is. This is great art of historical and cultural importance that changed people, blew their minds and inspired them. I know that it changed ME. Zap Comix deserves to be reappraised and valued for what it’s truly worth and Fantagraphics has done an amazing job with this stunning box set.

Now the Smithsonian Institute needs to step up to the plate while the remaining Zap artists are still alive and kicking against the pricks and give them their due. It could happen. It should happen. Let’s hope it does happen.

Below, one of the greatest—and most eerily prophetic—comics EVER by Gilbert Shelton, “Wonder Wart-Hog’s Believe It or LEAVE It!”...Um… he could be talking about TODAY’s America, here, couldn’t he???
 

 
More classics from Zap Comix after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Baby and childhood photos of Frida Kahlo, taken by her photographer father Guillermo
11.21.2014
02:57 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Frida Kahlo


Age 2, circa 1909
 
Much of what interests us about Frida Kahlo’s art is very personal. Themes of disability, fertility, ethnicity, sex and gender, romance, love and communism pervade her work, adding to the romantic fascination that her life inspires. Less often considered are the strange and erratic circumstances of her family life—beyond, of course, the fact that her husband Diego Rivera had an affair with her sister Cristina, pictured below. 

Frida’s photographer father Guillermo, who took these pictures, was a compelling character in his own right. He was born in Germany as Carl Wilhelm Kahlo (Frida insisted he was Jewish, though evidence indicates he was actually Lutheran), but he hispanicized the “Wilhelm” to “Guillermo” upon moving to Mexico. Guillermo’s father actually footed the travel bill because his son did not get along with his stepmother. Before marrying Frida’s mother, he had two daughters with his first wife, who died giving birth to their third child. Scandalously, Guillermo asked Frida’s maternal grandfather for permission to marry his daughter the very night his first wife died, and then sent his children from the marriage to be raised in a convent, shortly after the wedding.

Despite all of this, Frida was raised in a home of relative comfort and was close to her family. Her father appears to have been very supportive of her, even allowing her to dress in men’s clothing for a family photo. Even as a baby, her face is unmistakable—right down to the strong brows.
 

Age 4, 1911
 

Age 4, 1911
 

Date unknown
 

Age 5, 1912
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Balloon art wizard creates a balloon art version of a Keith Haring classic
11.21.2014
07:08 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Keith Haring
Robert Moy
balloons
balloon art


 
I never thought much about balloon artists before, but this Robert Moy fellow has given me a whole new respect for the pastime. In this remarkable time-lapse video he twists and bends roughly 150 black balloons to pay homage to a 1987 painting by Keith Haring called Five Dancing Guys.

Garage Magazine asked Moy for a demonstration of his art, and he came up with the idea of imitating a Haring. Garage says it took Moy two days to do it. The little marks on the ground apparently aren’t balloons, or they would drive the balloon count up to 247. (Yes, I counted.)

Here’s the Haring original, you can compare the results for yourself:
 

 
Moy runs the Brooklyn Balloon Company. Of his mural, he said, “I’ve always been a big fan of Keith Haring and thought his work would translate well using balloons. ... Haring’s kidlike, playful qualities relate strongly to my balloon sculptures.”
 

 
via Vulture
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Painting by Adolf Hitler expected to fetch over $60,000 at auction
11.21.2014
06:14 am

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
Adolf Hitler

ahpntng321p.jpg
 
It’s strange to think that when Adolf Hitler was struggling to eke out a living as an artist in Vienna during 1913 and 1914, he was residing in the city at the same time as Joseph Stalin, Leon Trotsky and Josip Broz Tito. With this in mind, it’s not too difficult to imagine that Hitler and Stalin could have easily passed each other on the streets during their early morning walks. While Hitler painted, Stalin was in hiding as a wanted revolutionary, Trotsky was writing political tracts as editor of Pravda and Tito, the future dictator of Yugoslavia, was working as a chauffeur and part-time gigolo.

One of those paintings done by Adolf Hitler in Vienna is expected to make over $60,000 when it is sold at auction this Saturday. The picture is a 100-year-old watercolor by the future Nazi leader of Munich’s old city hall. According to Kathrin Weidler, director of the auctioneers Weidler who are handling the piece, the painting has raised considerable global interest because it is a signed work by the Nazi leader.

The painting is being sold by two elderly sisters whose father originally purchased it in 1916. The picture is being sold with its original bill of sale and a signed letter from Hitler’s adjutant, Albert Bormann, who was the brother of Hitler’s private secretary Martin Bormann.

Bidding is expected to start at around $5,000, but Ms. Weilder believes the painting will reach over $60,000 and perhaps even double this figure. However, she says the painting is of minimal artistic merit and is uncertain if bidders for the Führer’s artwork will attend the auction in person. Which raises the question, who would want to spend over $60k on for something on the level of a doctor’s office painting by such an evil man?
 
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ahpnting123.jpg
 
Via the Independent.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Sister Mary Corita, nun, teacher and Pop art pioneer
11.20.2014
03:30 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
pop art
Sister Corita Kent
nuns


 
Corita Kent—known as Sister Mary Corita until her departure from religious servitude in 1968—is one of the great unsung trailblazers of pop art. As chair of the arts department at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, Sister Mary Corita’s approach to arts pedagogy touched Saul Bass, Alfred Hitchcock, Buckminster Fuller, Charles and Ray Eames, and John Cage (whom she quotes in her famous “10 Rules for Students,” below). Her work is known for its political content and explicitly anti-war messaging, but there’s more to her artistic legacy than her identity as a radical nun.

Although her most public pieces are a really bad stamp and a giant natural gas tank of the same ilk, they pale in comparison to her larger body of work—primarily serigraphs (multi-colored screen prints). She used bright shades, thick lines, deconstructed advertising design and erratic typography. She often including literary quotes or her own poetry in scrawl, producing elegant political messaging without heavy-handedness, sanctimony or literalism. The work is bold, triumphant and sometimes spiritual, but never preachy.

Corita Kent died of cancer in 1986 in Boston, where she relocated after leaving the order. She would have been 96 today. I highly recommend you give her classroom rules below a look, and check out the short 1967 documentary, We Have No Art, at the end of the post for her brilliant insight into the creative process.
 

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.

 

“Come Alive,” 1967.
 

From the “Circus Alphabet” series, 1968. Kent made multiple prints of this particular Camus quote.
 

“Stop the Bombing,” 1967.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Beatles Electroniques’: The Beatles warped beyond recognition, 1969
11.20.2014
11:31 am

Topics:
Art
Music
Television

Tags:
Beatles
Jud Yalkut
Nam June Paik


Beatles Electroniques, 1969
 
The relationship and eventual marriage of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, looked at from a slightly unusual perspective, can be seen as an alliance between the high pop mastery of the Beatles and the playful avant-garde methods of the Fluxus group. Ono was obviously one of the major Fluxus artists of the day, and in taking up with her Lennon exposed himself to avant-garde art in a particularly intimate way—and vice versa.

It would be a stretch to say that the Beatles were authentic pioneers of electronic music, but at the same time it couldn’t be clearer that McCartney and Co.’s relentless experimental incursions into the medium of pop music had an enormous effect on what was regarded as “in bounds” for rock music. The introduction of feedback on “I Feel Fine,” the use of reversed tape loops in “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the maelstrom of nonsense in “Revolution 9,” the symphonic collision of melody in “A Day in the Life,” and so on. In 1967 McCartney contributed a 14-minute tape loop composition called “Carnival of Light” to an awesome-sounding event called the The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave that has never reached the public even to this day (Harrison and George Martin loathed the piece; Harrison vetoed releasing it every chance he got). Meanwhile, Harrison himself made a key contribution to the canon of electronic music with the release of his second album, titled simply Electronic Sound, in 1969; the album consisted solely of two loooooooong Moog compositions, as my colleague Ron Kretsch ably explained on DM a few months back. Of course, Lennon himself was burrowing into weirdo musique concrete with Yoko, in various releases like Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions, Two Virgins, and Wedding Album.

Once dubbed “The Artist Who Invented Video Art,” Nam June Paik was an incredibly prolific and amusing conceptual artist from Korea in the postwar era; he is most associated with his works incorporating the cathode ray tube (we usually call it a TV set), including “TV-Buddha,” “TV Chair,” and “Family of Robot,” the last of which is essentially a series of robots made out of TV sets. Earlier in his career Paik was associated with John Cage, particularly his notorious 1960 work “Etude for Piano,” which culminated in Paik cutting off Cage’s necktie and washing Cage’s hair with shampoo.
 

The Beatles, 1969
 
In 1969 Paik teamed up with Fluxus-associated filmmaker Jud Yalkut to create Beatles Electroniques, a three-minute video in which Beatles footage is messed with electronically. I would argue that Beatles Electroniques is an essential proto-Plunderphonics text. I’m tempted to call it the first important Plunderphonics work in everything but name—the term “Plunderphonics” was coined by composer John Oswald in 1985 to describe works stretching back no earlier than the 1970s. Oswald’s key recordings include the Plunderphonics EP (1988) and the Plunderphonics album (1989). Key inheritors of the Plunderphonics style are Negativland and Christian Marclay. The Residents fucked with Beatles source material in The Beatles play The Residents and The Residents play The Beatles, but that was fully eight years after Beatles Electroniques.
 

Nam June Paik
 
As Barbara London’s essay “Looking at Music” described it in the volume Rewind, Play, Fast Forward: The Past, Present and Future of the Music Video,
 

In October 1965, Paik screened his first videotapes as part of a series of “happening nights” at the Greenwich Village nightclub Cafe au Go Go—a venue that included Lenny Bruce and the Grateful Dead among its roster of performers. … Beatles Electroniques, 1966-69, made with the experimental filmmaker Jud Yalkut, is nothing less than an early black-and-white music video. Paik grabbed bits from the mock documentary A Hard Day’s Night (directed by Richard Lester in 1964), refilming and further distorting the footage through his video synthesizer (developed with engineer Shuya Abe). Snippets of the Beatles’ faces are caught in a loop of warped abstraction. To accompany the endlessly folding imagery, Paik created a sound track with Kenneth Lerner, which featured fragmented Beatles songs recited again and again. Whereas the original film is an upbeat paean to Beatlemania, Paik’s strategies of appropriation and repetition are conceptually closer to Andy Warhol’s silk-screened paintings of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, 1962, and Steve Reich’s phasing of spoken words from a publicized racial incident in his sound composition Come Out (1966). Like these works, Beatles Electroniques brought seriality into the realm of sensory overload.

 
Nobody seems to know what these “fragmented Beatles songs” actually are, so transformed are they in Paik and Yalkut’s work. Without further ado, here’s Beatles Electroniques:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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New Yorkers & Angelenos absolutely losing their sh*t over a bicoastal video hook-up in 1980


 
It’s obscene how we take technology for granted. The Internet is the greatest communication tool since the written word, and what do I do with it? I (expertly) evaluate dick jokes for wage labor, and look at videos of cats soothing babies to alleviate my Seasonal Affective Disorder. We’ve not always been so cynical though.

Artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz created an installation called “Hole in Space” in 1980. Utilizing cutting edge satellite technology, life-sized audio-visual transmissions were displayed in real-time between New York’s Lincoln Center and an open air shopping mall in Century City, Los Angeles. Not only was the installation setup utilizing technology few had ever seen (much less used), no explanation was given for what was transpiring and no sponsors or artists were credited—it was sort of a huge, impromptu guerrilla video-chat.

Unlike say, a Google Hangout or Skype chat, participants in the piece (who were completely random passers-by), had no “video reflection” of themselves—they couldn’t see their own transmission as the other line did, because there was no extra window mirroring them. This made for a completely organic, unselfconscious moment of communication. The piece ran in two hour increments, for three days (November 11, 13 and 14) and as news of the public-space, bicoastal party line spread, the crowds grew.
 

 
The video below is taken from those impromptu interactions between New York and LA, and it’s absolutely amazing. Viewers/communicators are so shocked and delighted by such a seamless connectivity across the country—it’s an incredibly moving thing to witness. I can’t actually think of a time in my entire adult life where I’ve been as surprised or affected by technology as these people were—much less in public.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Concept Barbie doesn’t just have realistic proportions—she has scars, acne, freckles & cellulite
11.19.2014
02:55 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Feminism

Tags:
Barbie


Acne
 
Graphic designer/amateur toymaker Nickolay Lamm plays with Barbies a lot. First he came up with the make-up-free Barbie—worrying that she was “a little bit too hypersexualized,” which is strange, since I see women walking around my neighborhood with a face fulla slap, and the kids don’t seem to be scarred from it. Then he came up with a “proportional” Barbie, whose body matched that of an average 19-year-old woman (according to the Center for Disease Control)—a noble aim, but I find it misguided, and a little patronizing.

I tend to think projects like this misjudge children’s intellect—not everything in a child’s play or fantasy world is somehow internalized like some kind of insidious timebomb of self-loathing, and while Barbie’s uncanny proportions certainly indicate something rotten about our perspective on women’s bodies, I honestly think their effect on little girls is negligible. I’d argue Barbie’s freaky shape and perpetual Tammy Faye Bakker-ish makeup is a symptom—but not the cause—of self-esteem problems with women and girls—but what do I know? I’m just a woman who grew up healthy and happy playing with Barbies! As I have said before:

On some level, hyper-realistic dolls are a bit silly anyways, since anyone who’s ever been around kids will admit you can draw a smiley face on a jar of pickles and they’ll play with it like a doll. In many parts of the world, dolls don’t attempt the detail of Barbie, and people don’t have to think about dolls’ “bodies.”

That being said, what children do like about dolls—far more than any adult-invented concept of body idealization—is interaction, and Lamm may have actually come up with something a little girl (or at least John Waters), might be really interested in playing with. The Lammily doll now comes with decals for acne, freckles, moles, blushing cheeks, scrapes, bruises, scars, stretch marks and even cellulite. I do believe children are better at distinguishing fantasy and reality than Lamm thinks, and I do not think little girls give two shits about the literalism of their dolls (I also played with pink unicorn dolls—they did not leave me disappointed with regular old brown horses, I assure you), but it is a scientifically proven fact that stickers and accessories are basically crack for kids!

Lamm says he “wanted to show that reality is cool,” and asks, “a lot of toys make kids go into fantasy, but why don’t they show real life is cool?” Maybe it’s because doll-play is literally a fantasy, in that children are animating an inanimate object! Kids will have plenty of time to contend with reality; they still play with dolls that “wet themselves,” for example, so the doldrums of domesticity have not lost their appeal to young eyes, even in the wake of Barbie and her Dreamhouse. I think Lamm should have a bit more faith in little girls—their intellectual independence and their critical reasoning skills—but playing with scars and bruises? That’s something I think they could get into, even if it’s not for the reasons he thinks.
 

Mole
 

Scrape
 

Scar
 

Cellulite
 

Stretch marks
 
Via TIME

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Freeze, you dirty dopers’: The ‘Heroin Haikus’ of William Wantling
11.19.2014
12:46 pm

Topics:
Art
Books
Drugs

Tags:
poetry
heroin
William Wantling


 
If the American poet William Wantling (1933-1974) had not existed, it would have been up to Charles Bukowski  to invent him—in fact, the two men did know each other. Wantling spent most of his life in Illinois but served in Korea and also did time in San Quentin for unspecified crimes, although it may have been forging prescriptions, which would make him the original drugstore cowboy. (His inmate number in the California Dept. of Corrections system was A45522.)

After prison, Wantling studied and eventually taught at Illinois State University. Samuel Zaffiri said of Wantling that his post-prison life was “a constant search for things which would get him drunk or high.” Zaffiri also wrote of Wantling, “He was a manipulator and all with whom he came in contact, whether best friend or casual acquaintance, were game for his wiles. He wheedled, begged, lied.” According to Kevin E. Jones, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the poet, “Wantling lied, cheated, ripped off his friends, shat in their bathtubs.” Sounds like quite a guy.

And, as it happens, exactly the guy to think up the idea of writing haikus about the heroin life. Spero was a literary magazine published in Flint, Michigan, in 1965 and 1966. The first issue featured William Burroughs and LeRoi Jones; the second issue had a tiny little booklet tucked into a tiny little pocket—the booklet was Wantling’s Heroin Haikus.
 

William Wantling
 
It should be noted that Wantling’s understanding of the haiku form was looser than yours or mine, most likely. Wantling ignores the line lengths and focuses on the syllable count, the poem has to have 17 syllables. I guess that’s why, in a beautiful bit of purposeful modesty, they’re called “some seventeen-syllable comments.”

Here are three of them:
 

THE FIX

Give me the moment
that will join me to myself
in a mad embrace

LOS ANGELES—2

I bring a can of weed.
Grady brings pills and peyote.
Party time!

THE BUST

A knock, the door
flumps down.
Shotguns, the heat screams—
Freeze, you dirty dopers!

 
At the Division Leap bookstore and gallery in Portland, Oregon, you can buy a copy of Spero #1 and #2—complete with Heroin Haikus tucked in a little pocket—for just $350.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
More heroin haikus after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Meet The Fleshlettes, a loving family of hyper-realistic body horror mutants
11.18.2014
03:05 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Fleshlettes


“This is Tonya, she’s the matriarch of the Fleshlette family.”
 
Los Angeles sculptor Jonathan Payne produced these lovely little Cronenbergian trinkets—The Fleshlettes—with polymer clay, acrylics and human hair, but man if they don’t look like actual flesh. The Fleshlettes are distinctly sentient in concept; not only did Payne name each one, he attributed to them their own unique personality traits—I captioned what descriptions I could find, but some remain anonymous. What about the warty fingerball with some sort of intestinal sphincter? She kind of looks like a “Hortense” to me. Perhaps a “Louise?”

These “tumorous little balls of flesh,” as Payne calls them, lack a dominant form, instead melding body parts into masses so seamless, you almost miss some of the distinct anatomy. I almost put a NSFW up for Richanda, but really, her phallic/areolar nature is hardly the most disturbing thing about her. Besides, have you heard her sing?!? The voice of an angel, that one.
 

“This is Toni. She smells. None of the other girls pick her to be on their team. She can type 90 wpm.”
 

“She is named Eileen (for obvious reasons).”
 

 

“Here is Richanda, the 6th fleshlette. She is similar to the others except for one key difference: her singing voice.”
 

Gisele
 
Via Disinformation

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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