Unleashed upon the world in the same year as E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Blade Runner, the Disney production Tron may not have been the best sci-fi movie ever made, but it was certainly among the most stylish. For tweens who desperately wanted to know what it might be like to live inside the Pac-Man console down at the local “arcade”—1982 being a very big year for that particular game as well—Tron was definitely the flick for that craving.
Tron had assets aside from its production design, however. The movie may not have been designed to take particular advantage of the considerable charm of Jeff Bridges, later seen in his indelible performances as the Dude, Rooster Cogburn, and Otis “Bad” Blake, but you can’t really argue with that casting choice, and in David Warner the movie had that moment’s most deliciously malevolent baddie (also appearing as Evil itself in Time Bandits and as Jack the Ripper in Time After Time).
These promo shots and/or production stills are amusing primarily for forcing the actors involved (Bruce Boxleitner and Cindy Morgan prominently among them) to do without the blue glow of the post-production special effects, revealing them to be a passel of California actors doing that make-believe that sometimes pays so very well. Enjoy ‘em.
Or “How I, a complete novice, got here, from there…”
I am a 53-year-old wake-n-bake stoner and I’ve been high since… well… since 1979. Leaving much of that, er, loaded statement aside (and yes, as a definitive study of one, I do plan to leave my body to science) think of all the money I’ve spent staying massively stoned since I was fourteen. At approximately $20 a day over 365 days per annum ($7300) for 39 years that comes to $284,700 but do consider that I had to make nearly twice that and pay tax on that income before I could spend it on herb. Money doesn’t grow on trees, of course, but there was a time not all that long ago when an ounce of pot and an ounce of gold were the exact same price, for a little perspective.
I kid myself that all my money was spent on books and records, but I know the truth. And the truth is, I have no regrets. Frankly I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without marijuana nor do I wish to try. It seems obvious in retrospect that I was, and am, self-medicating, but who cares about that? I simply don’t feel right until I’ve smoked around ten bong hits and I have always been this way since the very first time that I smoked pot. But again, add up all the money I’ve spent each and every day since 1979 and it only makes sense that with legalization I would want to start growing my own.
Now I’ve been around quite a few grow rooms—some really sophisticated ones—and I have good friends who are master growers, but I myself have never grown anything, not even tomatoes, let alone cannabis plants that resemble Venus Fly Traps. Nevertheless my enthusiasm—I’m finally going to grow pot!!—was not to be dampered by my utter cluelessness as to what the task at hand actually called for. Standing in my new home I announced to two friends that I was going to start growing pot and they started pelting me with annoyingly reasonable questions. Questions that I could not answer. Questions like “Where are you going to do it?”
“In the garage. Or the attic.”
“You can’t do that. You’ll get spider mites.”
“You know you’ll need a grow tent, right?”
If you are reading this because you are interested in growing pot yourself, you probably feel vicariously defeated by what you just read. Admit it, you sighed at the thought of it: It already sounds harder than buying a clone at a dispensary, putting it under a light and giving it a squirt of Miracle Gro several times a day, doesn’t it? What’s a grow tent?
I felt like an overeager dummy. I also realized in that very moment how it was already seeming like an overwhelming task to me.
The next day I read several “how to grow pot” blog posts and the advice was, to say the least, all over the place and often contradicted the thing I’d read right before it.
I thought the obvious first place to start looking would be lights. I knew that I wanted LED lights (better, cheaper, cooler, safer) and perhaps the one place where many pot bloggers were in agreement was regarding Black Dog Lights. It was clear to me that Black Dog’s full spectrum grow lights was the way that I wanted to go, so I crossed that off the list (more on this topic later in this series.)
Something I also noticed immediately is that Home Depot’s online presence might be the single best and biggest internet source of all things hydroponic. But unlike the topic of LED lighting, with no clear grower consensus in grow tents or nutrients, I was again overwhelmed. How was I even gonna hang a Black Dog light in my (theoretical) grow tent anyway? Did I mention that I’ve never grown any plant? I did. Well I’m also helpless with a hammer and tools and so forth. I have no talent in that area whatsoever. I’ve been an apartment dweller for most of my life. So the idea of making a grow tent and hanging the lights and doing all that made this seem like it was going to be less fun than putting together an Ikea dresser. It was seriously daunting. You think it’s going to be easy, but when you want to get off the dime, you could go in a bewildering number of directions and it’s difficult to be confident that you’re not going to waste a lot of money experimenting until you get it right. That’s the way it was quickly shaping up to me.
Fortunately I have some human resources to rely on. I emailed my old friend Michael Backes, an internationally known expert on cannabis and the author of Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana. I explained my dilemma and he gave me several pieces of good advice. First he suggested that I purchase and read (and reread and then reread again) Jorge Cervantes’ Cannabis Encyclopedia. He also sent me a PDF of a study about pot growing hygiene which made a very strong case for using hydrogen peroxide to fastidiously clean all surfaces in your growing area. When I expressed exasperation about how complicated the supposedly simple act of growing a weed (properly) was shaping up to be, he suggested that he knew a consultant who was adept at setting up grow rooms large and small and that he’d probably charge me $4000 plus equipment and expenses to set me up right.
When I informed him that I didn’t see myself ever growing more than six plants, he sent me a link to the Cloudponics website and suggested this might be more what I was looking for: a truly turnkey pot growing solution. Although there are a small number of companies touting their automated grow boxes on Kickstarter and elsewhere, so far only Cloudponics had actually made it to market and they’d already launched their second iteration. I noticed that Cloudponics was utilizing Black Dog’s full spectrum LED grow lights and my interest was immediately piqued. I watched their video—a nudge-nudge-wink-wink tutorial on growing your own hydroponic tomatoes (see below)—and I realized that this was exactly what I needed, I just didn’t know it yet.
Surgery to correct strabismus, a misalignment of the eyes.
The artist Francis Bacon spent many hours poring over illustrated medical books looking at surgical procedures on mouth and tongue cancer, hare-lip correction, and tracheotomies. He declared these image beautiful, in particular the way in which the artist had used color to represent a tongue or a mouth. It was something he tried to recreate in his own paintings. Bacon was a voracious reader. After his death, more than 1,000 of his books were donated to Dublin’s Trinity College History of Art Department and the City Gallery, the Hugh Lane. Among this collection are works by Beckett, Nietzsche, T. S. Eliot, De Beauvoir, Elizabeth David cookery books, and a well-used set of medical textbooks, some illustrated by Frank Netter, others containing work by Joseph Pancoast (1805-82).
Pancoast was an American surgeon who pioneered many techniques in surgery and in particular plastic surgery. He also wrote the highly influential book A Treatise on Operative Surgery, first published in 1844, which compiled various surgical procedures or “processes” that exhibited the “state of surgical science in is present advanced condition.” The book contained some 80 color-plates and 486 illustrations, and was further enlarged in 1846.
Illustrations from another medical book that caught Bacon’s interest was Précis iconographique de médecine opératoire et d’anatomie chirurgicale by Claude Bernard (1813-1878), a French physiologist, who has been described as “one of the greatest of all men of science.” Bernard was the first to use “blind experiments” by which information is kept from the participants to eliminate any possible bias. He also believed scientists must endeavor to disprove their own theories as scientists can “solidly settle” their ideas “only by trying to destroy [their] own conclusions by counter-experiments.”
Like Bacon, I’ve had a long fascination with old medical textbooks and their illustrations as I find the artists’ depictions of surgery and disease beautifully capture the essential frailty of the human condition. However, some readers may find a few of the following illustrations potentially disturbing. You have been warned.
The removal of cataracts.
Surgery for correcting a harelip.
Far more disturbing surgical procedures, after the jump….
Pete Shelley died late last week, a very sad day for all of us at Dangerous Minds. He will be missed.
Everyone reading this knows that Shelley played an important role in the UK punk scene as the lead vocalist and songwriter for Buzzcocks and was an important new wave innovator as a solo artist. Over the weekend John Coulthart called attention to an aspect of Shelley’s career I hadn’t known about, his innovative use of computer technology to create alternative means of enjoying music in the televisual age.
On the cover of Shelley’s first proper solo album, 1981’s Homosapien, a dandified version of the artist perches awkwardly in an extremely 1980s sort of “office” that featured (among other objects) a pyramid, a phrenologist’s skull, and, significantly, a Commodore Pet, which was one of the first personal computers sold directly to consumers, in the late 1970s. Wittingly or no, that Pet would signal a bold direction Shelley would take on his 1983 follow-up, XL•1, which featured a suite of “videos” to accompany each of the album’s songs that consisted entirely of computer graphics. The program was programmed by Joey Headen for the ZX Spectrum, a home computer of that moment that served as the approximate British equivalent to the Commodore 64 in the United States. (Remember: If you’re not pronouncing it “Zeddex Spectrum,” you’re not saying it right.)
According to Headen, Shelley, an early adopter of the ZX Spectrum, wrote a simple program in BASIC that would display the words to one of his songs in response to a series of key presses. Eventually, with the help of some computer-savvy friends, Shelley put together a test of a program that would run without requiring human intervention—using Wire’s “A Question of Degree” as the guinea pig. Shelley liked the results so much that for a time he would enthusiastically show the program off to houseguests.
Shelley’s producer Martin Rushent was (like Shelley) quite technophilic and thus instrumental in making the ZX Spectrum version of XL•1 come into being. Rushent’s home studio was technologically forward-looking enough that in 1983 the magazine MicroComputer Printout would quip that his mixing desk “looks like something out of Star Wars.” Rushent invited Headen and another programmer named Francis Cookson up to his home studio to work on the program while Shelley cut the tracks for the album. Headen later reminisced:
We decided the program was going to be divided into 10 different sections, one for each song. Each song was going to have a different graphical look.
The lower third of the screen, 8 lines of text, would contain the lyrics. I had devised different methods for the text appearing: instantly, slowly, from the side and from the top. These could be used depending on the song. The top part of the screen would be used for graphics. The graphics were kept simple—pixels, lines, circles, color blocks, scrolling horizontally and vertically.
With three weeks until the album was to be finished, I moved down to the hotel to work on the program full time. This was crunch time, and Francis and I spent most of the time working in the hotel room. In fact it took us three days before we realized that there was only one bed in the room and we had to change rooms.
Here’s one of the pages Headen saved from that month of work—a lyrics sheet in Shelley’s handwriting for XL•1‘s first track “Telephone Operator.” I’m not sure but the numbers on the right might have been some kind of notation for Headen to keep track of the program’s cues.
The program was crude but anyone who remembers 1983 at all will testify that such oddities didn’t seem crude whatsoever at the time.
After the jump, experience the full multimedia experience of XL•1….......
If you visit London’s Freud Museum between now and next February, you’ll see an exhibition devoted to the meeting between Salvador Dalí and Sigmund Freud that took place there in 1938, when the house in Hampstead was Freud’s “last home on this planet.” The artist brought his recent painting “Metamorphosis of Narcissus” to show the doctor, and, he later claimed, took the opportunity to sketch the form of Freud’s skull d’après nature (from life).
Like many of the Surrealists, Dalí revered Freud as a towering genius who had solved the riddles of the dream, but Dalí‘s ideas about the shape of Freud’s head were all his own. As he tells it in The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, the actual meeting between the two men was preceded by a number of fantasy meetings that took place in Dalí‘s imagination during his visits to Vienna. When Freud escaped the Nazis in ‘38, arriving in Paris en route to London, Dalí was eating snails nearby in Sens, and his dinner was interrupted by a shocking epiphany about the involute form of Freud’s brainpan:
Several years after my last ineffectual attempt to meet Freud, I made a gastronomic excursion into the region of Sens in France. We started the dinner with snails, one of my favorite dishes. The conversation turned to Edgar Allan Poe, a magnificent theme while savoring snails, and concerned itself particularly with a recently published book by the Princess of Greece, Marie Bonaparte, which is a psychoanalytical study of Poe. All of a sudden I saw a photograph of Professor Freud on the front page of a newspaper which someone beside me was reading. I immediately had one brought to me and read that the exiled Freud had just arrived in Paris. We had not yet recovered from the effect of this news when I uttered a loud cry. I had just that instant discovered the morphological secret of Freud! Freud’s cranium is a snail! His brain is in the form of a spiral—to be extracted with a needle! This discovery strongly influenced the portrait drawing which I later made from life, a year before his death.
Dalí‘s ‘Freud à tête d’escargot’
‘Morphology of the skull of Sigmund Freud’: Dalí‘s sketch of Freud’s skull as a snail, ‘d’après nature’
Nadia Choucha will be giving a sold-out talk on “occult and psychoanalytical theory in the art of Surrealism” at the Freud Museum on Halloween. Below is the trailer for the ongoing exhibition “Freud, Dalí and the Metamorphosis of Narcissus.”
“Outlaw Tech. Rebel Science. Information is the ammunition, your mind is the target.”
Cyberpunk entered the world borne on gusts of hype. Billy Idol’s previous three albums and the greatest-hits comp Vital Idol had all been certified platinum, and the term “cyberpunk” was strained by heavy use in 1993, invoked to explain such disparate cultural phenomena as Ministry, Freejack, the Bomb Squad, white-guy dreads and the 14.4K modem. Maybe Mr. “Eyes Without A Face” could square this circle. Who better to explain cyberpunk’s continuity with paleopunk? After all, hadn’t his first band been called “Generation X,” another buzzword of the day? If you’re a record executive, you’re going to let Billy have all the binaural recording equipment, Stan Winston special effects and rails of GHB he wants.
Except for those nine dance versions of the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin,” Idol’s instincts were solid. The CD and its accompanying interactive press kit on 3.5-inch floppy incorporated the talents of some heavy hitters. However, despite the cover art by bOING bOING’s Mark Frauenfelder, the bass playing by Doug Wimbish, the remake of Blue Pearl’s “Mother Dawn,” and the participation and blessing of arch-cyberpunk Timothy Leary, Cyberpunk sank like a Macintosh Performa tossed on a leaky waterbed. (Don’t let anyone tell you it’s Billy Idol’s worst record, though.)
A couple GHBoverdoses later, Billy lost the white-guy dreads and returned to his former shtick; a decade passed before he issued a new LP.
“Just Around the Corner” by Frank Kelly Freas. This painting appeared on the cover of Fantastic Universe Science Fiction in 1955.
Frank Kelly Freas was known as the “Dean of Science Fiction Art,” and was the second artist to be inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. For fifty years Freas’ work appeared in all kinds of science fiction publications beginning with his first sale to Weird Tales in 1950. In 1957, Freas would hook up with MAD magazine painting nearly every cover of MAD until 1962. His spectacular artwork has appeared on the covers of books by some of sci-fi’s most celebrated authors such as Poul Anderson, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov. He has been nominated for the prestigious Hugo Award twenty times—winning eleven—more than any other artist in history. In addition to his work in sci-fi, Freas also contributed to another organization obsessed with outer space—NASA—and many of Freas’ posters done for NASA hang in the Smithsonian. Lastly, if you still need to be convinced of Freas’ impact to the art world, he also collaborated with Queen in 1977 at the request of Queen drummer, Roger Taylor.
According to Taylor, he pitched the idea of using Freas’ artwork of a giant robot called “The Gulf Between” from the cover of an issue of Amazing Science Fiction published in October of 1953. After reaching out to Freas, the artist agreed to paint the cover for the band’s 1977 album News of the World with a few modifications. For the album cover, the robot, named Frank, naturally, is clutching the lifeless, bloody bodies of Freddie Mercury and Brian May, while poor John Deacon and Roger Taylor (Taylor is pictured on the back of the album) fall to the ground. In addition to the iconic album cover, Freas also created the poster artwork featuring his menacing robot for the News of the World Tour. And since I’m a special kind of Queen nerd, I should mention, to help further promote the record in the UK, EMI created a small number of four-and-a-half-foot Franks to be used as record displays in high-end record stores. In 1997 Sideshow Collectables put out a God Of The Robots Model Kit based on Frank—which is, sadly, nearly impossible to find just like the record store promotional Frank.
I’m no synesthete, so I’m still not sure what Eddie Van Halen meant by “the brown sound.” Sorry, Eddie: I’m the kind of literal-minded philistine who sees with his eyes and hears with his ears. Regular slobs like me have to make do with the pitch-and-color correspondences of Alexander Scriabin’s Theosophically inspired score Prometheus: Poem of Fire, which included a part for color organ.
(N.B.: As this article points out, a century ago, “synesthesia” did not exclusively refer to a neurological condition, but described “a broad range of cross-sensory phenomena” that could arise from mystical or aesthetic experience. So asking whether Scriabin himself was “really” a synesthete is beside the point.)
There’s ever so much bullshit about Prometheus on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Internet. As a corrective, let’s start with some heavy scholarship from the eminent musicologist Nicolas Slonimsky:
Scriabin made an earnest attempt to combine light and sound in the score of Prometheus, in which he includes a special part, Luce, symbolizing the fire that Prometheus stole from the gods. It is notated on the musical staff as a clavier à lumieres, a color organ intended to flood the concert hall in a kaleidoscope of changing lights, corresponding to the changing harmonies of the music. Unfortunately, the task of constructing such a color keyboard was beyond the technical capacities of Scriabin’s time. Serge Koussevitzky, the great champion of Scriabin’s music, had to omit the Luce part at the world première of Prometheus which he conducted in Moscow in 1911.
Alexander Wallace Rimington with Colour-Organ (an instrument that did not, in fact, perform ‘Prometheus’ in 1915)
The Russian Symphony Society gave the first performance of Prometheus with lights at Carnegie Hall on March 20, 1915, a little over a month before the composer’s death. James M. Baker’s “Prometheus and the Quest for Color-Music” sets Scriabin’s work in historical context and traces its path to Seventh Avenue. The essay overflows with detail on the particular system of correspondences Scriabin worked out, the history of synesthetic compositions, and Prometheus’ relationship to Theosophical lore. Significantly, Baker agrees with Slonimsky that, when Scriabin wrote Prometheus, he had no clue how the Luce portion of the score would actually be played (much less how “to flood the concert hall” with colors):
Although documents from the time are sprinkled with comments hinting that various color apparatuses had been tried and had failed in preparing earlier performances, in actuality there was no color organ ready and available for which Scriabin had conceived the part. It is true that Alexander Mozer, the composer’s friend and disciple who taught electrical engineering at a Moscow technical school, had constructed a small color device with which Scriabin experimented in his apartment, but this was merely a crude circle of colored light bulbs mounted on a wooden base.
Baker writes that Scriabin’s plans for English performances of Prometheus accompanied by A. Wallace Rimington’s color organ were scotched by the outbreak of World War I. In New York, the technical problem fell to the Edison Testing Laboratories, which invented a color organ especially for the show: the Chromola, a keyboard of 15 keys hooked up to a number of lamps behind color filters, with two pedals to control their intensity. While more impressive than Mozer’s “crude circle of colored light bulbs,” the projections on a gauze screen fell short of the composer’s desired effect. The May 1915 issue of The Edison Monthly represented the debut performance of Scriabin’s “special light score” as a modest success:
The theory of the production is roughly this: Following out the analogy of light and sound vibration, Scriabine [sic], the Russian composer, hit upon the notion of writing a color score to accompany his orchestral “Poem of Fire.” In theory, the audience was to sit bathed in floods of changing light whose variations in tint and intensity should follow the sound variations. In practice, however, this became more complex.
It was found impossible to achieve “floods of light,” and in their place a gauze screen was provided on which the changing hues were thrown, controlled from a cleverly designed “color organ” or “chromola.” Scriabine’s original color scale was found defective and a more scientific one was provided, based on rate of vibrations, each octave extending from deep red at one end of the spectrum to violet at the other. Thus pitch was made analogous to hue, loudness to shade and quality to the intensity of illumination. Advocates of mobile color feel sufficiently encouraged by their experiment to wish to attempt another production under more favorable conditions. And apparently one of these will be a score somewhat less bewilderingly dissonant than the “Poem of Fire.”
Below, a 2010 performance of Prometheus approximates the totally bitchin’ immersive light show Scriabin imagined, with the help of 21st century lighting tech and Yale’s massive endowment (that’s Ivy League coin, perv!).
There are times when the best advice is ignored by those its intended to help even when it’s given by example. If only Tusko the elephant had taken the hint from Nellie and packed his trunk and waved goodbye to Oklahoma City Zoo, then maybe dear old Tusko could have avoided his untimely and unnecessary death on August 3rd, 1962, from a massive overdose of LSD injected by two scientists, Dr. Louis Jolyon “Jolly” West and Dr. Chester M. Pierce, and Mr. Warren Thomas, head honcho at the city zoo..
I can’t help but think if Beavis and Butthead had ever by some miracle of fate graduated from high school and then somehow majored in sciences at the local community college, then they may have come up with the idea of injecting an elephant with humongous dose of LSD just to see what would happen. Not that West, Pierce, or even Clark were random knuckleheads. They were highly qualified science guys with impressive resumes who just wanted to know what would happen if a fourteen-year-old Indian elephant tripped out on acid.
LSD was the new wonder drug. Doctors, scientists, psychiatrists, and the CIA were all fascinated at the potential use of the drug in altering behavior, helping mental illness, possible brainwashing, and as a potential military weapon. What West and Pierce were keen on discovering was the drug’s use in determining the cause of episodes of temporary madness in male elephants called musth. During these phases of aggressive behavior, male elephants secreted a fluid from their temporal gland which, on occasion, could be seen oozing out of their ears. Musth caused male elephants to go on a rampage, stomp the shit outta stuff, kill people, and generally cause havoc. West and Pierce hoped a dose of LSD would provoke a psychotic reaction in Tusko which would cause musth to occur. If it did, then LSD could be used in the research of psychotic behavior in elephants and humans—as it was thought the elephant’s brain was similar, if considerably larger, to ours.
But here was the BIG problem: no one had ever given LSD to an elephant before, well, at least no one had owned up to it, and West and Pierce had no knowledge as to what dosage would provide a suitably effective hit of the drug. They consulted zoo-guy Thomas, who noted that African elephants were often resistant to drugs. It was therefore decided to roughly estimate the dose to be administered to Tusko on calculations based on the size of dose given to humans and increasing the dosage proportionally to the elephant’s size. Somehow this ended up multiplying Tusko’s dose by approximately 3,000 percent—which is the largest known dose ever given to animal.
On Friday, August 3rd 1962, West and Pierce watched as Thomas injected Tusko with 297 milligrams of LSD. Tusko quickly started tripping balls. The elephant became very distressed and lost control of his bodily movements. Tusko ran around his pen trumpeting. His mate Judy tried to comfort poor Tusko, but it was to no avail. Believing they may have injected him with waaaay too much acid, West, Pierce, and Thomas quickly administered an antipsychotic drug—-2,800 milligrams of promazine-hydrochloride. It didn’t do much. His eyes rolled back, his tongue turned blue, and the elephant showed signs of seizures.
The expert in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases first encountered Burroughs on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. During the 1970s, after reading Naked Lunch, Lees began experimenting with apomorphine, the substance Burroughs advocated to cure junk addiction, as a treatment for symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
In 2013, again following Burroughs’ example, Lees traveled to the Amazon rainforest to take yagé, or ayahuasca. He told the Guardian that taking the drug “broke down certain rigid structures that were blocking innovations in Parkinson’s disease research.”
Lees has also used apomorphine and Brion Gysin and Burroughs’ Dreamachine to investigate visual hallucinations in Parkinson’s patients.