Chickens are generally the stupidest-looking birds on the planet. I own two different coffee table books of chicken photos simply because the mere sight of these idiotic fowl can literally bring me to laugh-induced tears.
It must be hard to be a chicken—they’re all going to laugh at you.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some elegant chickens out there. Today we cast the spotlight on two types of goth chickens: the Black Silkie and the Ayam Cemani.
The Black Silkie is thought by traditional Chinese medicine to increase female fertility and vitality and nourish the pregnant woman’s developing child. It’s feathers and skin are black and they are most often raised as pets or for showing rather than producers of eggs or meat—though they are indeed edible and make a great noodle soup.
The Ayam Cemani is a designer breed from Indonesia, also possessing black feathers and skin—not to mention black muscles and organs. They are an expensive breed. Chicks generally sell for around $200 each. They have been referred to in some circles as the “Lamborghini of poultry.”
Confronted with a bright pink room at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., American artist Jennifer Angus knew just what it needed: hundreds and hundreds of insects arranged in lovely patterns like spirals, circles, and skulls.
The art piece is called “The Midnight Garden” and the show in which it is included is called “Wonder,” which will be available to view from mid-November through next July.
A professor at the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Angus says that her research “is driven by my interest in pattern,” which is clear enough from this strange wallpaper alone. She has often used insects in her work, having collected the creepy crawlies (always in an ecologically sustainable way) from locations all over the world. Never one to take a lifeform for granted, she also carefully reuses her stock of arthropods from project to project.
“Many people who visit my exhibitions were never aware that such unusual insects exist,” Angus says. “I hope that my exhibition will get them excited and perhaps they will be motivated to get involved with one of the many of the rain forest preservation projects out there. I would also like people to think about their own environment and behavior.”
According to curator Nicholas R Bell, “The concept of ‘wonder’—that moment of awe in the face of something new and unknown that transports us out of the everyday—is deeply intertwined with how we experience art. These elements matter in the context of this museum, devoted for more than four decades to the skilled working of materials in extraordinary ways.”
Kevin Barnes has got to be one of the most fascinating, contradictory, theatrical, and inventive people in the contemporary music scene. Big words, I know, but when confronted with Of Montreal’s expansive discography, the imaginative vistas the band’s music explores, the remarkable plasiticity of identity featured in the songs, and the sheer WTF? inventiveness of their live shows, I think the label is justified.
Of Montreal is a product of Athens, Georgia (NOT CANADA, PEOPLE!), which is also the headquarters of the Elephant 6 Collective, of which OM counts itself a part; over the last 20-odd years, OM has released thirteen full-length albums, including (my favorites) 2004’s Satanic Panic in the Attic and 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?—both released during a period of intense creativity on the part of Barnes that dovetails with the incredible concert described below.
There’s a temptation to reduce Of Montreal’s output to a single person, Kevin Barnes, but there’s a reason for that—a number of their albums are essentially solo albums, and the band is primarily a vehicle for Barnes’ infectious and overflowing creativity. Not for nothing does Satanic Panic contain the following credit: “All instruments played by Kevin”—before, well, listing a long roster of featured players.
It might surprise some to learn that Of Montreal’s albums Hissing Fauna, Skeletal Lamping, and False Priest explore the point of view of a key alter-ego of Barnes’, namely Georgie Fruit, once described by Kat Bein as “a black man in his 40s with a gender-bending glam-rock past.” This is someone who isn’t kidding about the project of exploring the limits of his own artistic impulses.
All of this is to say that Of Montreal thrives on spectacle, and their live shows have been known to set high standards for theatricality. The pinnacle of this tendency was almost certainly Of Montreal’s show of October 10, 2008, when they took over the capacious stage of Roseland in New York City with a jaw-droppingly flamboyant show involving all manner of extras, costumery, three giant video screens, and a cameo from the cutest white pony the world of indie rock has to offer. That’s right, during “St. Exquisite’s Confessions,” about 40 minutes into the nearly two-hour concert, Barnes took off his lustrous orange housecoat or whatever you want to call it, leaving himself wearing the merest scanty belt, and wandered offstage, only to stun the audience by returning on top of a nervous-looking white equine.
I saw Of Montreal in 2005 at the long lost North Six venue (the space is now called Music Hall of Williamsburg), but at no point did any livestock intrude upon the proceedings. The rock critic and mp3 blogger Matthew Perpetua, a longtime fan of Of Montreal, having attended the spectacle, waxed rhapsodic about this incredible show at the time and was in fact the person who recently drew my attention to the existence of a complete video of the show on YouTube—shot by a fan, alas, but it’s still a remarkable document of a remarkable show. Here’s Perpetua:
Hey did you know that the legendary Of Montreal show with the horse at the Roseland Ballroom in 2008 is on YouTube in its entirety? I am pretty excited about this as it’s one of the best concerts I’ve ever witnessed.
I don’t quite have the attention span to sort out what on earth all of the imagery in the concert is supposed to signify, it seems rather like a passion play plus New Orleans during Mardi Gras plus the Coney Isand Mermaid Festival plus, perhaps, Mummenschanz? A list of the objects you can spot in the video includes a sombrero, a fanny pack, a noose, dumbbells, a pantomime horse, the real horse of course, a Mexican wrestling mask, a tiger mask, a pig mask, a rooster mask, a giraffe mask, a throne, and a big papier-mâché coffin. Before the show reached its climax certain members of the ensemble were covered in shaving cream.
During the encore Barnes belted out an ecstatic version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” featuring Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT on guitar, while the throngs of fans joyously dance along. One commenter on BrooklynVegan observed that “the front row was pure madness.” which is easy to see in the video actually.
Without any further ado, here is Of Montreal’s full Roseland show of October 10, 2008, all 109 glorious minutes of it:
Tons of pictures and a setlist, after the jump…...
Here’s the best Internet dub/remix video of the week.
I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the “We witnessin’ a baby whale kid” video which went insanely viral a few days ago.YouTube user Dan Telfer has uploaded a dubbed version of the video which recreates the scene as if the Boston Guy were an expert marine biologist.
Biologists have recently discovered that giraffes hum.
The prevailing theory about giraffe vocalization had been that they are not capable of generating substantial sounds because of the physical difficulty of them producing sufficient air flow through their long necks. However, some had suggested that giraffes employ low-frequency “infrasonic” sounds below the level of human perception, similar to elephants and other large animals who use it for long-range communication.
After extensive research in three European zoos, Angela Stöger at the University of Vienna, Austria, found no evidence of infrasonic communication, but she did pick up an intriguing humming noise coming from the giraffe enclosures at night—in all three zoos. “I was fascinated,” Stöger was quoted as saying in New Scientist, “because these signals have a very interesting sound and have a complex acoustic structure.” That hum turned out to be a low-frequency sound, of about 92 Hz. That’s not infrasound; the human ear can detect it, but just barely. Stöger and her colleagues say the hum varies in duration and contains a rich combination of notes.
Giraffes have a structured social system, but scientists don’t know much about how they communicate, according to Meredith Bashaw at the Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “This new vocalization could add a piece to that puzzle. ... It could be passively produced—like snoring—or produced during a dream-like state—like humans talking or dogs barking in their sleep,” she says. But she indicated that it could also be a method of low-granularity information for giraffes to use in the dark, when vision is limited, as if to say, “Hey, I’m here.” There’s still information to be collected about the behaviors accompanying the humming. But it wouldn’t be too unexpected if the humming is used to transmit information about age, gender, sexual arousal, dominance, or reproductive states, Bashaw said.
John Doherty at Queen’s University Belfast, who studies giraffes in Samburu Reserve in northern Kenya, has come across similar vocalizations, “in a captive giraffe. ... But, in this case, [the giraffe] was clearly disturbed by a husbandry procedure being carried out on its calf in a separate but visible enclosure.”
Interestingly, last year residents of Paignton in southwest England complained of a humming or droning noise coming from the giraffe house at night: “I am very tired. The noise is still there,” said one resident. “I am being disturbed in the night and am being kept awake by this.” For her part, Stöger doubts that the complainants were actually hearing giraffes: “The giraffe signals are not so intensive. I personally doubt that neighbors would hear that,” she said.
Renowned for his memorable visual interpretations of the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, Ralph Steadman has since transitioned to a less gonzo subject matter—birding. Next week sees the publication of a new book of Steadman’s paintings of endangered birds called Nextinction, as a follow-up to his 2012 book Extinct Boids, which, obviously, focused on “boids” that are, ah, no longer endangered. Both books were cowritten by Cari Levy. Nextinction came out in July in the U.K., but the U.S. publication date is September 15.
For more information on endangered avian species, you can check out the website for Endangered Species International. If you want to help endangered bird species, one of the concrete steps you can take is to build a pond in your backyard.
We normally don’t blog about animals here on DM, but when something this special like Eric the foul-mouthed bird comes along… it’s necessary. Eric lives in Australia and is owned by a woman named Sharon Curle. Eric has a vendetta against the family dog.
As you’ll see in the short video below, Eric doesn’t mince his words.
Can we please get Eric the foul-mouthed bird to debate Donald Trump?
And since I’m sure that more than a few of you are nodding your heads, “yes, please” then today is your lucky day thanks to Ryan Hanley, a taxidermist based in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Satanic Squirrel Ritual taxidermy
Satanic FTW Squirrel taxidermy (and yes, he is shooting you the bird)
Billed as “the most brilliant present ever” by its maker, Satanic FTW Squirrel (above) and his upside down cross stands about 12” tall and was the product of roadkill just like his pal Satanic Squirrel Ritual, in case these images are getting your PETA panties all in a bunch. There are loads of other images on Hanley’s Tumblr, but I don’t suggest looking at them if you don’t want to see things like lamps that used to be armadillos (which are completely amazing by the way), or roadkill raccoons that are now fashionable purses.
If you’re interested in purchasing Satan’s favorite nut job, it’ll run you $150 over at Hanley’s wife’s Etsy shop, The Wild Few. The Satanic Squirrel Ritual piece is $175. There’s also a Suicide Squirrel piece that features a taxidermied squirrel with a gun pointed at its head if that’s more your speed.
Recently I saw a social media post touting a newly “stabilized” version of the infamous 1967 “Patterson-Gimlin film” of “Bigfoot.” I was astounded to find that this footage, which I assumed everyone knew had been debunked, was still making the rounds for folks wanting to believe.
Is it just that the debunking stories don’t get told as often because they aren’t nearly as interesting as the prospect of a seven-foot-tall hominid cryptid skulking the woods of Northern California having been caught on (excessively shaky, out-of-focus) film, or is it simply that there are still so many people willing to believe—even in the face of credible sources explaining their role in the fakery?
Wikipedia indicates that there are at least seven scientists who have conducted studies favorable to the Patterson-Gimlin film being legit. One wonders if these might be the same seven scientists denying global warming.
A few years back I attended a lecture by the man who claims to have produced the actual suit worn in the film. He tells a compelling story.
79-year-old Philip Morris of Charlotte, North Carolina is a magician and entrepreneur who began a costume and stage prop business in the early ‘60s, Morris Costumes, which has grown to become one of the largest costume companies in the country. In the 1960s, Morris Costumes was one of the few companies producing gorilla suits for magicians and carnivals. Morris claims that in 1967 a man called him, identifying himself as Roger Patterson, stating that he was a rodeo cowboy wanting to buy a gorilla suit for a “gag.”
According to Morris, Patterson swindled money out of investors to raise the money for the (relatively expensive for the time) $435 suit. Morris claims that Patterson promised seven different investors a 50% cut of the profits for a “Bigfoot film” he was going to produce (do the math). Through these “investors,” Patterson was able to send Morris a money order for the gorilla suit.
“I didn’t think it was a real big deal,” said Morris. “It was just another sale.”
Morris shipped the suit to Patterson.
Patterson later called Morris back asking how to make the suit more “realistic.” “He asked me to send him some extra fur and asked how to hide the zipper in the back and how to make the person in the costume look larger,” Morris said. “I told him to brush the fur over the zipper and use hair spray to hold it, and then get some football shoulder pads and sticks for the arms to give the illusion of being taller, and use stuffing to get more bulk.” And that was the last Morris heard from Patterson.
In October of 1967 Morris saw the famous footage on television and recognized his suit. “I was watching TV when I saw Patterson and his film on the news,” Morris said. “I called my wife from the other room and said, ‘Look it’s our gorilla costume.’”
Morris indicates that he didn’t initially go public with the information about the sale of the suit because he didn’t want to expose a fellow illusionist, stating: “In my mind it was a magic trick.”
He didn’t want to break the magician’s code.
Morris didn’t start speaking publicly about the suit until Patterson died in 1972. Even then, he mostly told his story at trade conventions.
Eventually, Morris’ story made its way to Bigfoot researcher Greg Long.
Greg Long’s The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story devotes an entire chapter to Morris’ claim that he provided the costume for Patterson. “I couldn’t see any motive beyond that he wanted to tell the truth,” Long said. “This was just a good story that he decided to tell.”
“Most people believe me, but there are people that are very hostile to me when I tell them it is a hoax,” Morris said. “It is like telling them Santa Claus doesn’t exist. They grew up believing it was true and do not want to admit to themselves it’s fake.”
His story seems believable, but can Morris really prove that he sold a suit to Patterson which was used to fake 59.5 seconds of jerky out-of-focus “Bigfoot” footage? I suppose not, but then again, I want to believe.
Here’s Philip Morris talking about the sale of the suit to Patterson: