During the annual Urs Festival in India some Sufi Muslim holy men of the Chisti order show their devotion by sticking knives in eyes….Okay.
Thousands of devotees attend the six-day festival Amjer in Rajasthan commemorating the death, some 800 years ago, of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti, the founder of the Chisti order of Sufism. Apart form stabbing themselves in the eyes, these Sufi Muslim holy men also self-flagellate, drive spikes into their backs, pierce their cheeks with knives and skewers and take part in a 75 mile walk to a shrine in Bhadiyad, ending with an all-night (dhikr/zikr qawwali) singalong with other (presumably similarly maimed) worshipers.
Sufism differs from other forms of Islam with congregations formed around a grand master (Mawla) who are claimed to maintain “a direct chain of teachers back to the Prophet Muhammad.” Sufis consider themselves to be “the original true proponents of this pure original form of Islam.” The eyeball stabbing and the self-torture form part of the strict self-discipline Sufis consider evidence of their devotion. I wonder what they do for an encore?
And now here’s the usual caveat: This video contains images some may find distressing. Yep.
Ouch: The x-ray of a Jack Russell Terrier who ate a 10-inch bread knife.
The excuse of the dog ate my homework might not be so far fetched as these X-rays of things our fine four-legged friends have swallowed shows.
Dogs are supposed to be carnivores, but omnivore or hoover might be more appropriate, as some of the items gulped down by these intrepid pooches include knives, a skewer, a phone charger, a light bulb and a rubber ducky. The images come from the They Ate What? competition, where vets submit X-rays of the most shocking items discovered inside family pets in the hope of winning a $1,500 prize. This selection is things the dogs ate….but don’t worry all foreign objects were successfully removed—to the relief of both dogs and owners.
This dog ate a phone charger.
Shish-kedog: A dog from Germany called Marley ate this kebab skewer.
Stoned: A seven-year-old Jack Russell from the UK devoured 80 small stones.
Noah Wall is a NYC-based musician who contributed to the soundtrack of the documentary Print the Legend and released a really enjoyable LP called Hèloïse, among many other projects, but this week he released something mighty awesome. Wearing a pair of microphones designed to fit on one’s ears, so as to make incognito stereo recordings as close as possible to exactly what one is actually hearing, Wall made multiple visits to a Manhattan Guitar Center store over the course of three days, and released an album of those field recordings he picked up at random in the Walmart of musical instruments.
March 27, 2015. It’s about 3 on Friday. School’s out and people are headed to Guitar Center Manhattan. I’m going there to do some field recording. A block away, I put on a pair of microphones you might find in a spy catalog. They look like earbud headphones but are actually binaural (stereo) mic’s that go in each ear. No one suspects I’m recording them - more like listening to music or something.
Upon entry, I grab and prominently display the Absolute Beginners Guitar Chords book under my arm. This helps others dispel the possibility of musical prowess on my end. Gets me closer to the action.
This is my third and last day recording here. Some cliques gather in the acoustic guitar room and the occasional couple show off for one another but this place is mostly loners. Trying out a guitar or amp or whatever, they probably didn’t come here to jam with others. But the din has an ensemble effect and the unintentional group is abiding some unspoken rules. There’s a general respect in terms of volume, and sometimes strangers play in the same key and seemingly with one other. On two different days, two different people on two different instruments in two different rooms play the same Jackson 5 song.
In the mere days since he posted the album on Soundcloud, Wall has won new admirers, and prompted discussion of whether making an album this way is even legal. And he posted this wonderful graphic on his Facebook page, compiling social media responses to the work.
Sometime in the early 1920s the Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy suggested that a new form of “music writing” could be created from the grooves in phonographic records. He believed experimenting with the groves would enable composers, musicians and artists to produce music without recording any instruments. Long before scratching, Moholy-Nagy also believed the phonograph could become “an overall instrument… which supersedes all instruments used so far.”
With the arrival of synchronized sound in movies, as seen and heard in the first talkie The Jazz Singer in 1927, Moholy-Nagy refined his idea believing a whole new world of abstract sound could be created from experimentation with the optical film sound track. He hoped such experimentation would “enrich the sphere of our aural experience,” by producing sounds that were “entirely unknown.”
In 1929, the Russians produced their first talkie, the snappily titled The Five Year Plan for Great Works. The possibility of synchronized sound inspired a trio of pioneers, composer Arseny Avraamov, animator Mikhail Tsihanovsky and engineer Evgeny Sholpo who were fascinated by the curved loops, arcs and waveforms on the optical soundtrack. The patterns made them wonder if synthetic music could be created by drawing directly onto the sound track. Of course, this they did, at first testing out vase-shapes and ellipses then Egyptian hieroglyphs—all with startling results.
In 1930, Avraamov produced (possibly) the first short film with a hand-drawn synthetic soundtrack.
An example of Avraamov’s early experimentation in ‘ornamental sound.’
Meanwhile back at the lab, Evgeny Sholpo was collaborating with composer Rimsky-Korsakov on building what was basically an “optical synthesiser” or Variophone that used an oscilloscope to cut waveforms on small paper discs to produce synthetic music (“ornamental sound”) that was synced to 35mm film, before being photographed onto the same film to create a continuous soundtrack. Kinda laborious, but neat, the end product sounding that sounded like the music to a 8-bit game cartridge.
I’m not usually a fan of these “you’ll holler when you see it” pictures, but this one is kinda creepy and reminded me of the Richard Laymon book Night in Lonesome October that had a bunch of weird flesh-eating trolls who lurked under a bridge.
This guy is probably no cannibal (I hope), but the figure he does cut is definitely rather eerie.
reddit user youeatMYboogers was taking photographs of underneath the 4th Street Bridge, Los Angeles, unaware he was being spied on. It wasn’t until he got home did he notice his secret observer.
Do you see him now?
The photographer had no idea that he and his friend were being watched by this guy for over twenty minutes.
It’s often been said that the most successful business owners really know their audience. Not sure of his back story, but Tennessee-based Jason Brown seems to know a lot about prison culture. His company, Cards for Convicts, makes a line of black-and-white greeting cards geared to inmates.
Serving time is a serious matter, of course, but Brown is trying to take some of the sting out of being in the Big House:
Our allegiance lies with those sentenced to suffer and we make it our mission to ease their suffering. With words we tear down walls and reach through the glass. We keep hope alive everyday come mail-call. We understand the feeling an inmate gets when their name is called in front of everyone making it clear that they are not forgotten and that someone, somewhere still cares a great deal for them.
Nan Goldin became obsessed with taking photographs of her friends and classmates at school—she says she became the class photographer. One of her first subjects was her best friend David Armstrong who was into drag. After they graduated from school, Goldin and Armstrong shared an apartment and he introduced her to the world of drag queens. Goldin spent time photographing David and his friends.
After years of experiencing and photographing the struggle of the two genders with their codes and definitions, and their difficulties in relating to each other, it was liberating to meet people who had crossed these gender boundaries.
Most people get scared when they can’t categorize others—by race, by age, and most of all by gender. It takes nerve to walk down the street when you fall between the cracks. Some of my friends shift genders daily from boy to girl and back again.
Misty and Jimmy.
Goldin was born in 1953 the youngest of four children to a middle class Jewish family in Washington D.C. Not long after she was born, the family moved to the suburbs of Lexington, Boston. She was a rebellious child and ran away from home, and was eventually fostered by several families during her teens. Goldin has said she was “full of raw energy, creativity and sensuality” and found the fifties and early sixties an oppressive, difficult time. Then she discovered photography. First she took Polaroids, then shot Super 8, before taking regular photographs that she had developed at the local drugstore. Her friends would stack the pictures in piles to see who had the most portraits. Though these pictures were her a kind of diary—documenting her life, her relationships, her sexuality and her friends who became family (“We were the world to each other”)—the photographs were created out of her relationships and not observation.
Actress, writer and friend Cookie Mueller.
The work has always been misunderstood as being about a certain milieu of drugs and parties and the underground. And although I’d say that my family is still marginal and we don’t want to be part of normal society, I don’t think the work has been about that, I think the work has been about the condition of being human—the pain, the ability to survive and how difficult that is.
In this beautiful short film, Nan Goldin discusses her life and career, friends, drug addiction and the “other world” she has documented.
A selection of Nan Goldin’s beautiful photographs, after the jump…
France: a nation that has given the world such eminent artists, writers, scientists and philosophers as Henri Matisse, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Françoise Sagan, Jean-Paul Sartre, Coco Chanel, Marcel Duchamp, Isabelle Adjani, Luc Besson, Juliette Binoche and Edith Piaf, now brings us Noël “Nono” Jamet, the six times world champion pig squealer.
If ever there is a remake of Deliverance, then 48-year-old truck driver Nono would be the perfect choice for the Ned Beatty role…as he can certainly squeal like a pig.
Nono takes his porcine impressions very seriously—dressing up in a pink outfit, with piggy ears and snout—and who knows maybe he even gives himself a wee splash of eau du bacon?
This year, when Nono entered the Agricultural Fair (Salon de l’Agriculture) at the Porte de Versailles in Paris, he won the pig squealing cup with his incredible performance of the life of a piggy—from birth and breastfeeding to death. This performance is something that has to be seen to be believed, and I’m sure you will be as impressed by Nono’s amazing talent as much as the judges.
And if you can’t get enough of Nono’s delightful squeals and grunts—he can be hired to share his gift of joy as an entertainer at birthday parties. Look at the video, who’d let this guy near kids?
My education in experimental music came in my college years. Between volunteering at the campus radio station and living in a cheap apartment building in a neighborhood that had historically been a freak magnet, I hooked up with a cadre of students from a nearby music school who were into the weird stuff, and were cool enough not just to clue me in on 20th Century classical, the New York School, atonality, musique concrète, et al, they even invited me to make music with them. Over the course of two or three years, we filled up a metric shitload of blank tape and killed a lot of innocent cannabis plants, and it was all time very, very well spent. But seeing this BBC documentary on a late ‘60s experimental music program in the schools of Shoreditch, London, UK, made me wish I’d been from a time and place where I could have had many of those experiences (likely minus the cannabis, or maybe not) in elementary school.
The doc puts student works on display, starting with a piece exploring “heat, radiation, relentlessness, intensity, stillness,” with instructor Brian Dennis (the man who literally wrote the book on Experimental Music in Schools), who then gives a conducting demonstration, and a demonstration of tape effects. There’s a lengthy, edifying, truly wonderful visit to a class of very young children learning the creative use of tape recorders, and a science fiction story by one of the students, scored with music and sound effects made by his classmates. Then we’re treated to a lively and cacophonous student composition, scored with an invented notation. The program concludes with a genuinely creepy piece of drama, written, scored and acted by the students, wouldn’t you know it, about a cholera epidemic.
The sophistication on display here, even from some of the much younger students, makes me weep for the ultrashitty way US public schools treat arts education. (While athletics, naturally, are the inalienable milieu of young gods…) To keep myself from indulging in a rant about this—and I’d say nothing that hasn’t been said better by others, really—I transcribed my two favorite quotations from teachers in the program. There IS great educational value in difficult music, to wit:
“The children in this school have a great variety of creative experiences, musically, and we do try to make sure that the music is part of activity. All children are very interested in tape recorders, televisions, radios, in fact that is nearer their experience than are a great many nursery rhymes. Creative tape recording teaches them self-discipline, because they soon realize that if they talk at the wrong time it spoils somebody else’s work.”
“The children do have bizarre noise-making sessions as play, but I think this is quite a valuable experience. They soon learn that once they get used to the sounds, they need some other form of organization if they’re going to get more enjoyment. So naturally they progress to electing a leader or conductor, and they find there’s some need for notation of a sort, so they invent one, and they’ve progressed then from play to composition without actually being taught.”