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Helmets of blood: The Lost Gospels of Al Jourgensen
03.22.2017
11:03 am

Topics:
Books
Drugs
Music

Tags:
Drugs
industrial music
Ministry


 
First of all, let’s face it, there is no way to overestimate Ministry’s influence on rock ‘n’ roll. For one brief moment in time (let’s say 1988), they were the heaviest band on the planet, and they are clearly the greatest industrial-rock band of all time (unless you include fire tricks, then obviously Rammstein). And probably the best part about it is that they’ve been shepherded for the past thirty-something years by a complete maniac.

“God, I hate that guy. And he owes me an ass-fuck.”
- Al Jourgensen on Robert Plant

Frontman/chief-strategist/visionary Al Jourgensen started Ministry in Chicago in 1981. Originally they were a soppy synth-pop band (see 1983’s With Sympathy album, still a dancefloor fave among less sociopathic new-wavers), but as the 80s wore on, the drugs and the guitars and the psychiatric disorders took hold and by 1987’s Land of Rape and Honey album, the sound and vision had evolved into an ear-bleeding digital acid-metal nightmare. Shows became war zones. The band ushered in the 90s with hardcore sex and violence and enough Marshall stacks to topple the New World Order. Throughout it all, Jourgensen crawled through the muck of his own tortured psyche, drowning his psychosis with more psychosis in an endless orgy of sex, drugs and debauchery. And in 2013, he spilled the beans in a tell-all autobio, The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen,  that would swear even the most hardened drug enthusiast into a life of quiet sobriety. I mean, this is how the goddamn book starts:

“All that came out of me was blood, and there was so much pouring out of my dick and asshole that I started to panic. I didn’t want the toilet to overflow, so I took off the helmet, held it to my ass, and let the blood pour in there. I fell off the toilet and I tried to put the helmet back on, and about twelve ounces of blood matted down my hair and ran down my face, pooling with the blood that was dribbling out of my face and nose.”

 

A Young Al Jourgensen (with Stephen “Stevo” George) in his pre-pissing blood pretty boy days
 
Given that audacious opener, you may be expecting a redemption story. Well, he eventually gets his teeth fixed, but that’s about it. Mostly it’s just full-tilt gonzo, all the time. Just ask Butthole Surfers’ megaphone abuser Gibby Haynes, who is no stranger to bad craziness himself. Touring with Ministry was heavy even for him.

“I had never really done that, where it was girls, hotel rooms, girls, blowjobs. There were so many girls and so many drugs, so much nudity. I was lying on the floor, and Al glanced over at me and went, ‘Nice cock, Haynes.’ I was like, ‘Aw man, no one’s ever told me that before.’ That’s so sweet. It might not be true, but it’s nice to hear.”

Hayne is not exaggerating, either. There’s an incredible amount of really weird, gross group sex on display in this book, most of it involving Jourgensen, it being his autobiography and all.

“One night I fucked a paraplegic chick in a wheelchair. I think she had Parkinson’s. So she’s blowing a guy in our crew and I’m fucking her. She’s wearing a colostomy bag, and I was naturally curious. I stopped fucking her for a second and I started squeezing the bag back into her.”

And as soon as the fucking is over, the drugs, booze, paranoia and craziness starts back up. And it’s not just Jourgensen. Most of his cohorts are just as nuts. Here’s a snapshot from the book of life with Pigface/Ministry singer Chris Connolly:

“One day Chris comes running over, sweating and all freaked out, saying skinheads attacked him. I grabbed some pepper spray and a baseball bat; I didn’t have a gun back then. I go running outside to confront these skinheads who harassed my new vocalist. It was two ten-year-olds on their bikes. I asked him, ‘is that what harassed you?’ And he said yeah. I was like, “They’re ten-year-olds with tennis rackets. I don’t waste pepper spray on ten-year-olds.”

 

El Duce, only just slightly more epically fucked than the guy from Ministry
 
He also spent more time with Mentors’ frontman El Duce than anybody in their right mind would.

“A couple of times he passed out in the aisle of the drugstore after stealing mouthwash. They’d arrest him and then we’d have to bail him out for being drunk in Walgreens. You can’t tell me that’s not cool, man.”

S’pose not!
 

What does this man have in common with Al Jourgensen? It might not be the first thing that comes to mind…

More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ by Jack Kirby


 
If you’re at all aware of comic books history, Jack Kirby needs no introduction. As one of the founding visionaries at Marvel in the 1960s, Kirby’s vital storytelling skills and phenomenal visual energy helped make the X-Men, the Hulk, and the Fantastic Four household names.   

A few months ago we drew your attention to a never-published project of Kirby’s, his adaptation of The Prisoner, the dystopic British TV series starring and co-created by Patrick McGoohan. Today we have a similar treat, one of the very few fully realized stories by Kirby that has never been collected in book form—his mid-1970s adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey, originally a short story by Arthur C. Clarke called “The Sentinel” and later a movie directed by Stanley Kubrick.

The movie came out in 1968, but Kirby’s adaptation had to wait until 1976. We can regard that gap as a kind of marker for Kirby’s strong desire to adapt the story even though there may have been little commercial interest in it. Kirby first adapted the movie as a standalone book of 70 pages, and then proceeded to recapitulate the movie’s plot and themes over and over again across 10 issues—except this time with scary aliens with tentacles that have nothing to do with Kubrick’s movie. The resolution of that 10-issue run is a character who is actually oddly resonant with our own times, a human-A.I. hybrid called Machine Man, whose own comic book line, which picked up where 2001: A Space Odyssey left off, lasted for a few months. The character would be fitfully resurrected every ten years or so (1984, 1999). 

Remarkably, Machine Man was eventually made a part of the Avengers, so it’s an accurate statement to say that the Avengers has the DNA of Kubrick and Clarke in it—and for that matter Friedrich Nietzsche, who is never far from my thoughts whenever I watch Kubrick’s masterpiece.
 

 
Kirby’s adaptation of the movie was wildly rethought for the medium of comics. His palette is all over the place, departing vastly from Kubrick’s more stately blacks, whites, and reds. And the action of course is tuned to the entertainment value of a typical 10-year-old rather than a stoned college student—this is echoed in the cover promise that “The Ultimate Trip” would become “The Ultimate Illustrated Adventure!” Kirby dispenses with the three (highly Nietzschean) sections of the movie (“The Dawn of Man,” “Mission to Jupiter,” and “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite”) with four more hyperbolic sections of his own, which are replete with exclamation points:
 

Part I: The Saga of Moonwatcher the Man-Ape!
Part II: Year 2001: The Thing on the Moon!
Part III: Ahead Lie the Planets
Part IV: The Dimension Trip!

 
Kirby’s fans are said not to be fond of his 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I must say I like it. It’s got not that much to do with Kubrick but that just makes it all the more interesting.

In Kirby’s telling, the so-called “Starchild” infant of the movie’s finale is reconcieved as “The New Seed.” In the feature hilariously called “Monolith Mail” reserved for reader correspondence, Kirby noted of this element:
 

The New Seed is the conquering hero in this latest Marvel drama. Why? Because he has staying power, that’s why. He will always be there in the story’s final moments to taunt us with the question we shall never answer. The little shaver is, perhaps, the embodiment of our own hopes in a world which daily makes us more than a bit uneasy about the future ... in the meager space devoted to his appearance, he brightens our hopes considerably. He is a comforting visual, almost tangible reminder that the future is not yet up for grabs. And wherever his journey takes him matters not one whit to this writer. The mere fact that the chances of his making it are still good is the comforting thought.

 
Some sample images from Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey:
 

 

 
More images from Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey after the jump:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Keith Haring’s surprisingly G-rated, very rare, very expensive coloring book
03.16.2017
01:09 pm

Topics:
Art
Books

Tags:
Keith Haring


 
There’s always been a tension between the childlike DayGlo images of Keith Haring and the artist’s transgressive, libido-friendly, street-art-scrawling queer politics. Is Haring’s art meant for children or adults? Well, both, really—depending. As the politically charged 1980s recede from memory, the specific political stakes of his art likewise fade; in our post-Internet age it might be the case that your tween niece or nephew isn’t all that discomfited by the cartoonish image of a spurting penis anyway. It’s emblematic of Haring’s art (and marketing savvy) that the most famous image of the era’s most famous gay artist depicts an adorable crawling infant (actual title: “Radiant Baby”).

In any case, in most of his catalogue the two sides, the innocent and the profane, operate together. As a world-famous artist, Haring had an acute understanding of context, and he knew perfectly well when to retract his scarier tendencies and when to let them frolic, as in the decidedly NSFW images he used in his public work at the LGBT Center on 13th Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, as an example. And in some venues, Haring also knew how to keep it clean and even—egad—kid-friendly.

Haring’s coloring books are a case in point. Any one of us can go to Amazon and purchase The Keith Haring Coloring Book and we’d still have enough left over from a $10 bill left over for a slice and a soda (if you happen to live in Haring’s hometown, that is). I haven’t seen the inside of that product, but based on the cover it’s very likely that that book started out as a private project, self-published in small batches in 1986.

Today, exemplars from the original run are rather difficult to come by. When they do pop up at auction houses under its more formal name 20 Lithographs (Coloring Book), you’d end up paying $800-$1200 for one of them.

Most of us would be happier with the slice of pizza and the one you can feel safe actually defacing with crayons, amirite?

Here are a few images from 20 Lithographs, including the cover, which is slightly different from the retail product available on Amazon. Interestingly, the book is also a counting book—every image features one of the numbers from 1 to 19, with some element (legs, eyes, stars, etc.) featured in the stated amount. You can see the entire set of images here.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Salvador Dali’s strange and surreal illustrations for the autobiography of a Broadway legend

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Unless you’re a fan of Barbra Streisand movies, then the name Billy Rose probably won’t mean much. Billy Rose was a legendary Broadway impresario and songwriter—now best known for such show tunes as “Paper Moon” and “Me and My Shadow.” If you like la Streisand then you’ll know James Caan played Billy Rose to Barbra’s star comedian Fanny Brice in the hit movie Funny Lady. Billy Rose and Fanny Brice were for a time married. They were a celebrity couple like Brangelina or Beyonce and Jay Z.

That Billy Rose isn’t so well known today just goes to show how being a celebrity don’t mean shit in the long run. We might remember his songs, maybe even read about his stage shows, but we don’t care about the man. What is remembered are those people of exceptional talents who change everything.

Salvador Dali was such a talent.

Dali was talented and prolific. So prolific that he produced posters for the Communist Party the same decade he designed the window displays for Bonwit Teller in New York. Everything was open to the Dali treatment.

However, some possibly more green-eyed individuals thought Dali was only after one thing. His fellow Surrealist André Breton gave Dali the nickname “Avida Dollars.” The name was an anagram of Salvador Dali and was intended as a damning insult. The Surrealists thought Dali was only interested in money. Avida Dollars was a phonetic rendering of the French phrase “avide à dollars” which means “eager for dollars.”

It was Billy Rose who helped the Dali stage his “Dream of Venus” exhibit at the World’s Fair in 1939. This started an unlikely friendship between Dali and the showman known as the “Basement Belasco” and the “Bantam Barnum.”

Dali was so enamored with his new Broadway buddy he gave Billy a series of paintings titled “The Seven Lively Arts.” When these were later lost in a fire at Billy’s home, Dali replaced the work with a new painting called “Rock ‘n’ Roll” in 1956. That’s how tight these two were at one point.

Of course, Dali was shrewd enough to know giving paintings to a big impresario like Billy Rose would establish his name among the celebrity and monied social circuit and bring himeven more fame and success.

In 1948, Dali supplied a series of beautiful ink illustrations for Rose’s autobiography Wine, Women & Words. Rose was like a character out of a Damon Runyon story written by Raymond Chandler. Here’s how Rose opens his autobiography:

I was born the night President McKinley was shot, and a lot of fellows around Broadway will tell you they shot the wrong man.

The coming-out party took place on a kitchen table in a tenement on the lower East Side. When my mother first saw me, she prophesied, “Some day he’ll be President.” My father looked at me and said, “He’s all right, I guess, but what we really needed was an icebox.”

Yet this mix of showbiz wiseguy and Surrealist genius actually worked.

Each chapter in the book had its own illustration—with one (“Poor Eleanor Knows Them by Heart”) having two. Each focussing on some key moment or anecdote from Rose’s career. There was also quite a lot on his relationship with his then wife Eleanor Holm—the woman he left Fanny Brice for—who had been a star of his swimming extravaganza Aquacade at the World’s Fair of 1939.
 
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Billy Rose.
 
2dalirose.jpg
“Look, Ma, I’m Writing.”
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Erotic engravings from a poem celebrating sex, 1825 (NSFW)
03.09.2017
10:12 am

Topics:
Amusing
Books
History
Sex

Tags:
poetry
erotica

1invocamour.jpg
“Fainting.”
 
Volumes of vintage erotica are wasted on academics. Just think how many beautiful books filled with lusty, erotic engravings are moldering away under lock and key in some dark, dusty archive. They’re not for our eyes of course but rather for those of a disinterested professor or an ambitious Ph.D. student looking to reinterpret ancient sex manuals from a post-feminist, non-binary, neo-hermetic viewpoint.

Knowledge is power. Having access to knowledge makes us powerful. In the same way, memory can help define who we are, ye olde books can help us understand who we were. That’s probably why I sometimes begrudge all those wonderful books being kept from our grubby little paws—though in truth admit we must have our gatekeepers.

However, thankfully, there are those good people at the Wellcome Library who understand knowledge of the past helps us navigate the present. The Wellcome Library is one of my favorite websites. It is crammed with the most delightful and mind-expanding books, documents and artworks—which these good people have scanned and put online for our edification.

One day browsing through diseases and alike, I chanced upon a fine volume entitled Invocation à l’amour. Chant philosophique published in France in 1825. This is a “rare” and beautiful book containing a long poem celebrating sex and all the various sexual positions. The poem is a literal invocation calling on God the “Father of the human race and of pleasure, Love, come fill me with your divinity. So that from your transports I may render the ecstasies…”

It then goes on to “invoke the nine sisters of Apollo” to ensure everything “follows the supreme law” of well… I guess you’d call it S.E.X. Jane Austen was never like this. But it’s fascinating to find such an early paean to sex and sexuality—which also gives the lie to that hoary old chestnut sex was invented in the swinging sixties by the baby boomers….

It’s a strange and fiery poem which could do with a more nuanced translation than the one offered by Google. But if so inclined, you can read the original text by “A virtuoso of the good fashion” here.

Aside from the sex magick poetry, this slim red-leathered volume has some stunning illustrations. We don’t know who the artist was of these highly explicit engravings but we can at least admire their artistry, imagination and humor.
 
2invocamour.jpg
“The happy calculation.”
 
3invocamour.jpeg
“The charms of masturbation.”
 
More illustrations from ‘Invocation à l’amour,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
When bookstore employees get bored… they create art!
03.07.2017
09:53 am

Topics:
Amusing
Books

Tags:
books


 
Very similar to the record album covers placed over people’s faces, the Librairie Mollat in France decided to do the same thing, but… with book covers. The results are amusing and often spot on. The people in the photos are the store’s customers and employees. If their Instagram page is any indication, it seems like they’re having a good time with it.

Apparently, Mollat was the very first independent bookstore in France. It opened its doors in 1896.


 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Bill Paxton, William Burroughs, ‘Blade Runner’ and the making of ‘Taking Tiger Mountain’

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Taking Tiger Mountain is a strange film with an even stranger back story. It all began in 1974 when thirtysomething filmmaker Kent Smith saved up enough dough from making educational shorts to go off and produce his dream first feature. The folly of many first-time directors is knowing when to curb their ambitions. Smith was certainly ambitious—maybe overly so. He had an idea to make a kinda art house movie set in Tangiers—something inspired by Albert Camus’ novella The Stranger. There was no script, just a poem Smith had written on the kidnapping in 1973 of sixteen-year-old John Paul Getty—heir to the Getty oil fortune. Smith thought of his poem as the film’s framework. Add in a touch of Jean-Luc Godard and hint of Fellini and his debut feature was gonna be just peachy.

So, Smith had ambition—check. A basic storyline—check. And a nineteen-year-old actor by the name of Bill Paxton. Check.

Paxton was a hunk. A pin-up. The type of young actor who had I’m gonna be a big movie star pumping out of his pores. He had the looks, the demeanor and the talent. He was also fearless—as anyone would have to be if they were going to hook-up with Smith on a madcap movie-making adventure.

They packed their bags, leased some Arriflex Techniscope equipment and headed off to France. On arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, they discovered that their equipment had been lost in transit. It was the first of several small obstacles that eventually turned the film onto a different course. When the pair were eventually reunited with their equipment, they hired a car and headed for Spain. But the roads were like parking lots—gridlocked with holidaymakers on their way south to the coast. Eventually after a long, slow, infuriating drive, they made it to the ferry terminal and waited for the first ferry to take them across the waters to Tangiers.

As Paxton told Variety in 2015:

We got to Tangiers around midnight, and all of our equipment was impounded because we hadn’t paid the baksheesh. We got out in about 48 hours, and my attitude was “What the f–k?” I remembered I knew someone in South Wales when I was a foreign exchange student, so we drove there, and that’s where we shot the film.

 
02takingtigermopax.jpg
A young Bill Paxton as seen in the film.

Paxton and Smith traveled back up through Spain and France to England and then to Wales where things got “even crazier.”

We had purchased black-and-white short ends (film stock) from the film Lenny, and we sort of shot things as we came across them.

One guy had a Kenyan vulture, so we used that for a scene of eating my entrails. We met some girls and talked them into doing some nude scenes with us.

Basically it was a bunch of hippies running around naked. It was all silent, black-and-white footage.

They shot ten hours of footage—but what the hell to do with it all? They returned to the States. Paxton began making inroads into big screen movies, while Smith sat with his rushes wondering how to make a movie out of it.

In 1975, Smith showed the footage to a student at the University of Texas called Tom Huckabee. Nothing happened until Smith relinquished the rushes over to Huckabee in 1979. That’s when Huckabee started logging and assembling the ten hour’s worth of material together as he explained to Beatdom:

I started building scenes using the script they had which was loosely based on the J. Paul Getty kidnapping. There was no sci-fi element, no assassination, no prostitution, no feminism, or brainwashing. It was a dream film about a young American waking up on a train – with amnesia, maybe – who wanders into a Welsh town, meets a lot of people, has adventures, bad dreams, and then gets killed on the beach, or does he?

Once I had assembled all their footage into what seemed like a narrative flow, I started thinking about what the story could be. I didn’t like their story much, it was too languid for me,  disconnected, but mostly they had only shot half of it and I knew I couldn’t go back to Wales. I’d been reading Burroughs and a lot of other avant-garde, transgressive, and erotic literature. Story of the Eye was a big influence. I started reading The Job. I got the idea that he was an assassin… and maybe the idea to set it in the future.

Huckabee’s friends were all chucking in their two cents’ worth. A “mysterious guy named Ray Layton” had “the idea to make it about feminist terrorists brainwashing Billy…. and the prostitution camps.” Then Huckabee read William Burroughs’ novella Blade Runner (a movie) and the whole thing began to take shape in his mind.

I lucked into finding a backer who promised $30,000, and that’s when it got real. I remembered seeing another short film that Kent and Bill had made; a thinly veiled homoerotic portrait of Bill, called D’Artagnan. I thought it could be used to represent Billy’s brainwashing. By then I’d acquired the MKUltra transcripts and was heavily into The Job.

Huckabee approached Burroughs and obtained his permission to adapt Blade Runner into his movie. This was now the early 1980s, Ridley Scott was making a movie version of Philip K. Dick’s cult sci-fi book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Scott had also approached Burroughs to buy his title Blade Runner for his movie.

It took at least a year to write the script to conform to the footage, which by the way was 60 minutes. I knew I needed 75 min. minimum for it to be a feature. So I built five minutes of dream sequences out of outtakes, including one where I threw the film in the air and put it together as it came down – cheating a lot.

I should mention that I was fairly regularly during this time, maybe once every one or two months, on acid, mushrooms, and baby woodrose seeds… this, added with all the experimental film I was seeing, and avant-garde and erotic and left wing and feminist political literature I was reading, kept my mind open to outré thematic and formal tropes… so, say, if a scene wasn’t working I could always run it upside down and backwards… Also by then I was thoroughly versed in MKUltra brainwashing, psychic warfare, so in that respect I think I was getting a lot of that independently from Burroughs, maybe from the same source he was getting it.

Then I wrote the opening scene and shot it… and started dubbing in dialogue. I forgot to mention Woody Allen’s Tiger Lilly as an influence. First I hired a lip reader to tell me what the characters were saying and many of them were speaking Welsh.

Huckabee finished his film. Now called Taking Tiger Mountain—the title lifted from a Chinese opera—it was released in 1983. The film was described as a “unique sensory experience.” Set the near future Taking Tiger Mountain follows Paxton as:

Billy Hampton, a Texan who [has] fled from occupied America to British island in order to avoid compulsory military service. Once there, he [is] abducted by a group of sophisticated feminist terrorists, who have been opposing the oldest profession [prostitution] legalization, creating assassins by brainwashing and then setting them on the prostitution camps leaders. (They also specialize in redirecting sexual orientation and sex change operations.)

At the start of the film:

[A] quartet of middle-aged women analyze Billy and persuade him to believe that an aging major is actually a tiger sent by God to kill him. That prologue is a combination of sequences with Huckabee’s signature and those from a short film that Smith and Paxton had been working on prior to their arrival to Wales. What follows could be described as a sporadically wet psychotropic nightmare, with hypnotic soundtrack composed of gloomy drones, overdubbed dialogues, confusing monologues and omnipresent radio announcements about the war [and its] aftermath and the use of thermonuclear weapons on the United States…

More ‘Taking Tiger Mountain’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Circus’ by Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan. Illustrated by Joe Coleman. Narrated by Ken Nordine
02.28.2017
03:16 pm

Topics:
Activism
Art
Books
Pop Culture

Tags:
Narrated by Ken Nordine


Cover illustration by Daniel Nayari

Stories for Ways and Means is a new book that features original “grown up” children’s story collaborations by some of this era’s most compelling storytellers from the worlds of music and contemporary art. It’s being published by the long-running indie record label Waxploitation run by entrepreneur and photojournalist Jeff Antebi. The Stories for Ways and Means project lends support to several non-governmental organizations and nonprofit groups aiding children’s literacy causes around the world including Room to Read, Pencils of Promise, 826 National and many more.

Some of the featured musicians contributing to the project include Frank Black, Laura Marling, Del the Funky Homosapien, Gibby Haynes, Alec Empire, Kathleen Hanna, Devendra Banhart, Nick Cave, Alison Mosshart, Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof, Will Oldham, Gary Numan and ska great guitarist Ernest Ranglin.

You can order the Stories for Ways and Means book at SFWAM.org

The animated video below, “Circus” is based on a short story by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. It was illustrated by painter Joe Coleman and narrated by the voiceover legend Ken Nordine. It’s really neat.
 

 
Thank you kindly (and happy belated birthday) Sean Fernald of Hollywood, California!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘The Lottery’: Do you remember seeing this horrifying and scary film in grade school?
02.28.2017
10:54 am

Topics:
Books
Movies

Tags:
Shirley Jackson
The Lottery

The Lottery
 
Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery,” appeared in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker. The response to the fictional piece, which concerns a small-town tradition that ends in horrific violence, was profoundly negative. While many were dumbfounded by Jackson’s story, others were deeply disturbed. Here’s one such response: “I read it while soaking in the tub…and was tempted to put my head underwater and end it all.” Readers were shaken and outraged by it—even Jackson’s own parents let her know they didn’t like the piece. In all, the author received over 300 letters about “The Lottery”; only thirteen were positive. But what was the moral of the story? Thoughtless conformity can lead to cold-blooded killing? Ordinary people are capable of committing unspeakable atrocities? Cruelty is random? In July 1948, Jackson explained what she was trying to convey.

I suppose I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village, to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.

 
Shirley Jackson
 
Two decades later, a film adaption of “The Lottery” was produced by the Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation. The 1969 short went on to become one of the bestselling educational films of all time.

I first saw The Lottery in a middle school English class, and was around twelve years old. I was wholly unfamiliar with Shirley Jackson’s story, and as my teacher didn’t introduce the film, I was completely unprepared for what I was about to see. During the final moments, the matter of fact nature of the violence was so shocking…I mean, I was stunned. STUNNED. When the film ended, so did class, and I have no memory of talking to anyone about the film. What I do remember is that I had gym next, and vividly recall sitting on a bench in the boy’s locker room, dazed and shell-shocked, trying to make sense of it all. The Lottery scared the shit out of me, and I’ve never forgotten that moment. Thanks to the Internet, I know now I wasn’t the only one so strongly affected by it.

I never read the short story, so watching this short film was a true shocker for me. Like many other people, I saw this in my English class a long time ago, and since then, I still haven’t seen it. But I still remember that time; it really stays with you. I remember everyone in my class with their jaws dropping, we couldn’t believe it. (IMDb user review)

More after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Meet the Cubies: Modern Art spoof from 1913

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The revolution started on February 17, 1913, when four thousand members of the American public were confronted by the work of a group of European artists exhibited at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue, New York. The shock of this cultural invasion, called the Armory Show, claimed many. Some laughed. Some fumed. Some had an attack of the vapors. There were even those who felt their senses had (somehow) been physically assaulted by the canvases painted by artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and in particular Marcel Duchamp whose Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 proved to be the most sensational exhibit on display. This, many critics and members of the public claimed, was not art, it was mere childlike daubing. It was anarchy. 

When the exhibition arrived in Chicago, the Illinois Legislative Investigators probed “the Moral Tone of the Much Touted Art” over its “many indecent canvasses and sculptures.” When a third city Boston capitulated to the exhibition later that year, Modernism had arrived in America and nothing would ever be the same.
 
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Press respond to the Armory Show from 1913.
 
While some welcomed this cultural shift, there were many who clung to the security of the old order of classical art. In 1913, writer Mary Chase Mills Lyall (1879-1963) and illustrator Earl Harvey Lyall (1877-1932) produced an ABC book—intended for both adults and children—which poked fun at this strange new art. Their book The Cubies featured three ultra-modern, triangular figures of indeterminate sex who “moon over anything Cubist and scorn objectivity.” They owed their “incubation” to the Association of American Painters and Sculptors who had organized the Armory Show. Together these three characters lead the reader through their modernist manifesto of art:

A is for Art in the Cubies’ domain–
(Not the Art of the Ancients, brand-new are the Cubies.)
Archipenko’s their guide, Anatomics their bane;
They’re the joy of the mad, the despair of the sane,
(With their emerald hair and their eyes red as rubies.)
—A is for Art in the Cubies’ domain.

B is for beauty as Brancusi viewed it. C is for “Color Cubistic” where artists are advised to throw paint on a canvas and then exhibit it. D is for Duchamp “the Deep-Dyed Deceiver.” And so on and so on.

Their intention was to belittle and to deride the pernicious influence of this “shock of the new.” What happened next to this husband and wife team is unimportant. It was how America’s artists responded to the challenge set by the Armory Show that mattered. Artists responded not with a hankering for the past but with radical imagination and innovation which placed the United States at the center of Modern Art for the next sixty years.
 
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Read the rest of ‘The Cubies,’ after the jump…

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