I am honoured to have two pieces of my work in this charity art auction, which can be viewed online here.
Vampiress Lot 112:
Nosferatu Lot 111 :
Tickets also available below for the live event at the RBS in the city on February 21st 2018
Art4Grenfell announces UK’s largest City-based charity art auction in aid of Grenfell Tower residents
Supported By Bonhams and RBS
The ‘Art4Grenfell’ group has been created to raise funds to support the homeless residents and survivors of the Grenfell fire tragedy. Organiser and founder Hercules Fisherman has brought together many esteemed London and international artists from around the world, whom have been touched by this tragedy. The sole objective is to raise as much money as possible through one of the UK’s largest Charity Art auctions which will be hosted at the RBS headquarters in the City of London with Colin Sheaf, Bonhams UK Chairman, as auctioneer. The auction is open to all guests with admission by ticket only, and is being held on Wednesday 21 February at The Atrium, 3rd Floor, 250 Bishopsgate EC2M 2AA with the Preview and Reception from 6.00pm, followed by the Live Auction starting at 7.00pm. Admission is by pre- purchased ticket only, with all seated and standing tickets available for purchase online at http://art4grenfell.eventbrite.com/
Colin Sheaf, Bonhams Chairman commented: “This will be an exhilarating art auction, with many acclaimed and noteworthy iconic artists from the UK and abroad kindly donating a painting or work of art to honour the victims of this tragic loss of life in London.”
Earlybird 2 for 1 tickets here
It is sometimes said that science and philosophy have grown so far apart that they no longer recognize each other. Perhaps they no longer need each other. And yet some of the most thoughtful scientists of modernity—those who most dedicated their lives not only to discovering nature’s mysteries, but to communicating those discoveries with the rest of us—have been fully steeped in a philosophical tradition. This especially goes for Carl Sagan, perhaps the greatest science communicator of the past century or so.
Sagan wrote a number of popular books for layfolk in which he indulged not only his tendencies as a “hopeless romantic,” writes Maria Popova, but also as a “brilliant philosopher.” He did not fear to venture into the realms of spiritual desire, and did not mock those who did likewise; and yet Sagan also did not hesitate to defend reason against “society’s most shameless untruths and outrageous propaganda.” These undertakings best come together in Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World, a book in which he very patiently explains how and why to think scientifically, against the very human compulsion to do anything but.
In one chapter of his book, “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection,” Sagan laid out his method, proposing what he called “A Baloney Detection Kit,” a set of intellectual tools that scientists use to separate wishful thinking from genuine probability. Sagan presents the contents of his kit as “tools for skeptical thinking,” which he defines as “the means to construct, and to understand, a reasoned argument and—especially important—to recognize a fallacious or fraudulent argument.” You can see his list of all eight tools, slightly abridged, below. These are all in Sagan’s words:
See the unabridged list at Brain Pickings, or read Sagan’s full chapter, ideally by getting a copy of The Demon-Haunted World. As Popova notes, Sagan not only gives us succinct instructions for critical thinking, but he also makes a thorough list, with definitions, of the ways reason fails us through “the most common and perilous fallacies of logic and rhetoric.” Sagan’s chapter on “Baloney Detection” is, like the rest of the book, a highly literary, personal, engagement with the most pressing scientific considerations in our everyday life. And it is also an informal yet rigorous restatement of Aristotle’s classical logic and rhetoric and Francis Bacon’s natural philosophy.
They wanted to study me,
So, they entertained me with needles,
Sifting my blood for desire,
And distilling my fear to a stain.
All in the hope they would find the scalding pot
Beneath freckles, or stir the nail’s stinging
When sparking the skin to cause pain.
They enveloped my muscle with grease,
Papered my mouth, stoked saliva.
Measured my heart and brain function,
As they harvested the hairs from my chest.
Sucked at my knuckles, singed toes,
And let a child kneel before me,
Checking the flesh for sensation,
Or the nostril and neck for affect.
On my nipples I felt the electric dance
Of stunned moment. On the lobes of my ears,
And my scrotum, they placed a woman’s tongue
And hot bone. My ball-sack blushed round,
Becoming a bulb, ripe for blooming,
They let a snail and snake slip across me,
On shit and albumen I was throned.
They asked me questions.
They read the racket and rules of the riot.
Reports, long and listed of former loves past deceits.
They showed me that calm traitor, flesh
Who always persuades, never pleases,
Revealing at once the defilement
That no-one of recognised faith could conceive.
There were men there who pissed,
Often on me, seeking pleasure.
Men with long faces, with hairier friends,
Who were round. Police, overweight,
Already middle aged, middle England,
Who sat in rooms with me, spitting
Fire and words through hate’s sound.
I granted nothing. I stared.
I will never give into defilement.
What I believe inside has been tested
Against the struggle and stains of the rude.
I kiss away every bite and romanticise ruin.
I am calm canals and slow rivers,
Bending for boats to intrude. Birds, too,
Fat with sky. They plumbed with me cloud.
I rain-bloated. They brought me a Priest
In a bottle and I felt the candle’s cry
And scorched tears. They offered me
Indecipherable prayers, reflected in glass
My abasement, and yet inside I felt nothing,
Despite my blistering blood and skin fear.
Caged, I still flew, as they cornered the dust
On the ceiling. I was a moth lost to feeling
And the tears in my eyes were sharp stones..
I harnessed the clench as a bone is locked into crisis,
And soon found myself drowning in the kind of air
I’d disown. I was the name they gave me,
And more, the Knight it seems of no table,
The one for whom honour is there in it’s taking away.
And so they stole it, like blood,
By siphoning off every moment;
The level set, soon diminished by the greedy guts,
Boiled from fact. Hours passed. Days.
And yet I would always turn, into silence,
Just like a Chrysalis, folding,
In a defensive twist, when attacked.
I became an idea, or perhaps to them,
An example of the way to be Satan
In the agnostic heart of most men.
I was a Church to myself and beside myself
Smelt the Graveyard, the dead grown like roses
In weather only the forgotten ones could defend.
The lost soon surrounded me cold, meeting my gaze
In eye water. The way that a tear forms, or poem,
Proof of what it is you’d attone.
When you meet people, what palls
Is the need to distinguish yourself,
Or to witness what makes the man somehow
Better, and what makes him feel less alone.
For we are all trudging away across a terrain,
Unencountered. It is for each of us to discover
The particular ways we will yeald.
They discovered nothing. I left.
Catching the last bus of the day to my Village,
Stopping once there at a farmstead for meat,
Cheese and water and for the rarefied fruit
Of the fields. And thence, to the Pub
Where I ordered myself dark blood Guinness
Savouring the taste of adulthood and the chill
In the bowel pain unfurls. The drink filled me
Far more than any other drink of that nature,
Or of that size, half a Guinness
Could as well have been half the world.
Or perhaps it was the storm found in tea
When the old make them cauldrons,
Or when the rain falls in daggers
Spearing the soaked as its prize. Guinness, like oil
And Alcohol, to remind me of so many changes
And of so many long vanquished binds.
The curse of drink’s not the drunk
But the way it removes you from sweetness,
The trouble with drink is its fuelling of the need
For a fire to chance or change God. From the clouds
Which split rain and from the taste of fate falling,
From its weight and the staining that isn’t worth
Thinking of. Times when consequence, blame
And the basic distance of people,
Retreat like held knowledge as the gambles you take
Assume sides. There is the state of blankness
To come, the claim of both the numb and the Neutral,
The work of the Unknowable, knowing just what it must do
To divide. Through growing infirmity, age,
And the song of fear which is endless,
There is the voice singing badly as the landscape is ripped
Between tides. Seas separate but the open vein
Spills a country. Along its coast the wind gathers
And the continued argument burns.
Lost in the call is the dampened path of salvation,
Along with the reasons for war and for envy,
Man’s treasured weakness, and the calls to which
He will always return. It is how we will die, foaming
Or snagged, in our fashion, desperate to reach targets
Never truly attempted before. And so all that I do
Becomes brave if I consider at hand this last torment,
Turning the pain I felt towards pleasure as soon as
Your gaze leaves the shore. In the silence which comes
I will have made for myself a fresh language
Which I can divulge in sparse whispers
To someone like you, in a gale.
It will re-order the cliffs, inform every street,
Litter pavement, rising with those winds, I will batter,
Stopping every throat as sound fails.
I will become everything. I will be the capturer and the castle,
I will become ancient England and its ruined now,
Grown absurd. I will be as sly as the sun, scorching your skin
Through cloud cover, I will be the dark’s passage
With the shock of a cat, sharing words.
That is when they will know that all they did to dissuade me
Will have no cause and be subject to the watchful glare
Of the moon. The unknowable will be felt behind every instinct,
And man instruct his distractions to wither and fade like lost clues.
Then I will strike, re-translating the sun, gouging weather,
Reminding man in God’s absence just what it is to defile.
For we are all fallable, all Lucifer’s lot, fallen, failing,
With no-one left here observing
As I leave their world empty
By stealing what’s theirs
With a smile.
Illustration Nick Victor
Symbols – symbols everywhere. All along my journey they flashed forth the apocalypse of utterly unimagined truths. – Fitz Hugh Ludlow
Psychedelic art typically contains a number of recurring motifs. Examples include circles, spirals, eyes, concentric shapes, grids, landscapes, nudity, long hair, skeletons and mushrooms. Other common motifs are various kinds of non-human animals, vegetation, space scenery and mandalas. And when humans and objects are featured, they are occasionally seen in x-ray. Furthermore, psychedelic art is usually – but not always – characterised by intense, contrasting colours. There may also be a liquid quality to objects, where it looks as if they are melting. Obviously, these motifs and features are also included in many other artistic genres. Hence, in order to be defined as psychedelic, the motifs have to be combined and presented in a way that resonates with the psychedelic experience.
Why does psychedelic art nearly always contain this kind of imagery? Surely, there are numerous other motifs and features an artist could think of using. The images that one is exposed to while under the influence of psychedelics often display a huge variety, yet in the vast majority of cases the same motifs are used ad infinitum. For example, why is the eye such an omnipresent element in psychedelic art? Huge numbers of artworks, posters, book covers, album covers and leaflets feature the eye. To an outsider this could almost be seen as a pathological obsession. Although this piece is only a brief introduction to psychedelic imagery, it will hopefully spark some further interest in this fairly unexplored subject.
The psychedelic experience often produces deeply symbolic imagery, and naturally psychedelic art is usually packed with symbols.
The psychedelic experience often produces deeply symbolic imagery, and naturally psychedelic art is usually packed with symbols. In the words of psychotherapist Maria Papaspyrou, “Entheogenic journeys are highly creative spaces. They ‘speak’ to us through symbols, images, and feeling states that are carried forward by visions” (Papaspyrou, 2014: 35). Before discussing the symbolic meaning of psychedelic imagery, a few words should be said about what defines a symbol. According to Carl G. Jung, the symbol indicates something vague or unknown. Writing in Man and his Symbols, the Swiss psychiatrist said that, “A word or an image is symbolic when it implies something more than its obvious and immediate meaning. It has a wider ‘unconscious’ aspect that is never precisely defined or fully explained. Nor can one hope to define or explain it.” (Jung, 1968: 3-4). Jung was mostly interested in the symbols of dreams, which of course are produced during sleep. Imagery that is encountered while under the influence of psychedelics, on the other hand, is seen when fully awake, albeit mostly with eyes closed. This piece will take a look at symbols that appear in psychedelic art. But first a few words should be said about some of the many significant developments that have influenced or shaped psychedelic culture and, as a consequence, psychedelic imagery.
In order to acquire a better understanding of psychedelic imagery, one needs to look at psychedelic culture as a whole. Its history consists of a somewhat complex mix of cultural references, which are often filled with symbols and signs, many of which initially had little or nothing to do with psychedelics. Therefore, being a researcher of psychedelia simultaneously entails making research in several different fields such as anthropology, religion, history, the arts, the esoteric, psychology and medicine. Only by using this eclectic, interdisciplinary approach is it possible to reach an understanding of why a certain motif is used in psychedelic art.
It would be easy to think that psychedelic imagery as we know it from the 1960s and onwards appeared out of nowhere, as if the motifs and features were contained in the LSD molecule itself. Of course this was not the case. The origins of psychedelic art, as well as psychedelic culture as a whole, can be traced back to a number of culturally significant events, some of which took place many decades, even centuries, prior to the LSD counterculture of the 1960s. When considering proto-psychedelic art and literature, it is not always known if psychedelics were an influence during the creation of a specific artwork or book. Obviously, there are many ways of reaching altered states of consciousness (ASC). Besides mind-altering substances, ASC can be reached through techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises or fasting, to name a few, and artworks inspired by non-psychedelic altered states can certainly come across as having been the result of someone taking psychedelics. When discussing artworks that have a psychedelic “feel” but probably did not involve any mind- altering substances, writers and researchers sometimes refer to these works as having a “psychedelic sensibility.” The English poet and artist William Blake (1757-1827) is a perfect example of someone who made such works. Although there is no record of Blake using psychedelics, many people regard him as an important figure in the history of psychedelia. This is mostly thanks to Aldous Huxley, whose seminal 1954 trip report The Doors of Perception takes its title from a phrase in Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
Psychedelic sensibility is also present in the Lebensreform movement of the late 19th and early 20th century. The lifestyle of these proto-hippies were linked to nudity, sexual liberation, organic farming, vegetarianism and long hair, which of course were also features of the LSD counterculture of the 1960s. Furthermore, psychedelic sensibility is found in the Art Nouveau movement (Masters & Houston, 1968: 110), which roughly coincided with the Lebensreform movement. Artists working in the Art Nouveau style used curved forms found in nature, typically forms resembling stems and blossoms. Several psychedelic artists in the 1960s counterculture were heavily inspired by Art Nouveau. This was particularly evident when it comes to the poster art of the hippie era. Czech painter Alphonse Mucha was a huge influence. So much so that his posters reappeared in the counterculture where they were reworked and given a thorough psychedelic treatment. For example, Mucha’s classic colour lithograph Job – a poster advertising a brand of cigarette papers – was used by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse in a 1966 poster promoting a concert at the Avalon Ballroom. Even though the latter features a colour scheme that is undoubtedly psychedelic, one could argue that Mucha’s 1896 original is equally appealing to the art-loving psychonaut. In fact, Mucha’s Job has several features that make it very similar to psychedelic art. The poster shows a woman with incredibly long flowing hair. She has an expression of contentment in her face and could easily be interpreted as being stoned. Of course cannabis smokers like to think that the cigarette in her hand is in fact a marijuana joint. Furthermore, framing the picture is a somewhat trippy zigzag pattern. No wonder the young San Francisco poster artists were magnetically drawn to Mucha.
Psychedelic imagery is arguably the result of many different cultural events and influences. Some of these – such as the works of poet and artist William Blake, Art Nouveau and the Lebensreform movement – have already been mentioned. Other examples include the children’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and early accounts of psychedelic experiences by the likes of Fitz Hugh Ludlow, S Weir Mitchell and Antonin Artaud. Admittedly, the Surrealists and the Beats are also part of the story, and so are characters such as Jung and Aleister Crowley. In the 1950s, interest in altered states induced by psychedelics increased. An early pioneer when it comes to visual art was French artist and writer Henri Michaux, who made drawings while under the influence of mescaline and cannabis. Michaux’s experimentation resulted in his book Miserable Miracle, which was originally published in French in 1956. Also deserving a mention is Austrian painter Ernst Fuchs, who found artistic inspiration from his peyote experiences in the 1950s. But the perhaps most influential events in western psychedelia of the 1950s were the release of Huxley’s aforementioned book The Doors of Perception (1954), and the publication of R. Gordon Wasson’s Life Magazine article “Seeking the Magic Mushroom” (1957).
The 1960s counterculture was shaped by many different characters and groups, including the Merry Pranksters, the Grateful Dead and the San Francisco poster artists, to name a few. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that the counterculture’s interest in Eastern philosophy had an effect on psychedelic imagery. In particular, the Yin Yang symbol has been used in many artworks of the era. The late sixties also saw the publication of Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan, and it is safe to say that his book – regardless of what one may think of the accuracy of its content – helped create an interest in indigenous shamanism. This is still very much seen in today’s visionary art movement. Another noteworthy event in the late sixties was the release of Crowley and Frieda Harris’ Thoth tarot deck. Finished already in the early 1940s, the deck contains a huge number of symbols and many of its cards are very similar to psychedelic and visionary art. Moreover, the early seventies saw the release of Be Here Now by Ram Dass. In equal parts fascinating and peculiar, this hugely popular book is filled to the brim with psychedelic drawings.
An early example of psychedelic art is seen in the work of artist Sherana Harriette Frances. In 1963, Frances took part in LSD therapy at the International Foundation for Advanced Study in Menlo Park, California. During her trip she experienced the dissolution of her ego, which she depicted in 18 ink drawings shortly afterwards. Her works – which are full of archetypes – are excellent depictions of the ego-loss (or “ego-death”) that some people experience while on psychedelics. Praised by psychiatrist Stanislav Grof and others, Frances’ drawings were included in her book Drawing It Out: Befriending the Unconscious (2001). Several of the motifs that were mentioned in the beginning of this piece are found in Frances’ drawings. For example, in one of them, she is caught in a spiral together with five skeletons. In the drawing she is seen in the nude with her long flowing hair. As previously mentioned, spirals, skeletons, nudity and long hair are all common motifs in psychedelic imagery. Interestingly, it should be noted that Frances created her drawings several years before the appearance of the hippie movement with its psychedelic artworks, posters, album covers, light shows and films. In other words, her artworks were not influenced by the LSD counterculture of the mid to late 1960s.
The Skeleton symbolises death and mortality. Besides in Frances’ drawings, the motif is seen in many psychedelic artworks including the widely reproduced “Skull and Roses” poster by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, which was made as an advertisement for a Grateful Dead show at the Avalon Ballroom in 1966. In addition to Kelley and Mouse’s poster, skeletons and skulls are also seen in the works of Alex Grey. The latter is known for depicting humans in the x-ray style. X-ray depictions, which typically show inner organs and skeleton structures, are also seen in shamanic art all around the world (Halifax, 1982: 76). Writing in her book Shaman: The Wounded Healer, anthropologist Joan Halifax noted that, “The skeletonized shaman figure is the personification of death. At the same time, like the seed of the fruit after the flesh has rotted away, his or her bones represent the potential for rebirth” (Halifax, 1982: 76). In addition to the examples above, it is worth mentioning the death card in Crowley and Harris’ Thoth tarot deck, which, naturally, features a skeleton.
Let us now consider one of the most common motifs in psychedelic imagery, namely the eye. The eye has great symbolic value. It can for instance symbolise omniscience, knowledge, the mind, and the all-seeing divinity. The single eye – which is how the eye is often depicted in psychedelic art – can symbolise enlightenment, eternity and the eye of God. Furthermore, in Buddhism we find the third eye of Buddha, which represents spiritual consciousness (Cooper 2013, 62). The eye has been present from the start in western psychedelic imagery. For example, John Woodcock’s front cover design of the first edition of Huxely’s The Doors of Perception features an illustration of three eyes, and since its release numerous book covers have included the motif in some way or another, a contemporary example being Hallucinations (2012) by Oliver Sacks, which features a single eye. A large single eye was also part of the cover design of The 13th Floor Elevators’ seminal 1966 debut album The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. As for painters working today, visionary artist Alex Grey often returns to the motif in his paintings. According to Grey, “The Eyes are wings of the Soul – they see us to Heaven” (Dahl: 2014, 96). Incidentally, it is worth noting that although most psychedelic visions take place behind closed eyelids, the eye in psychedelic art is almost always wide open.
Although most psychedelic visions take place behind closed eyelids, the eye in psychedelic art is almost always wide open.
Besides having great symbolic value, most people find the eye aesthetically appealing and the eye lends itself very well to artistic depictions, not least in a psychedelic context. The eye is no doubt one of Mother Nature’s most fascinating creations, and staring into a pupil and the surrounding iris – incidentally a psychedelic artwork in itself – can be a captivating experience. Furthermore, it should be noted that the shape of the eye consists of an oval surrounding a circle. The latter, as will be discussed in a moment, is a motif that is recurring over and over in psychedelic art.
The circle is a universal symbol with many different meanings such as wholeness, the infinite and the Self. Seeing that it has no beginning or end, it can also symbolise timelessness (Cooper, 2013: 36). Psychedelic art typically contains concentric circles (i.e. circles that share the same centre point), and given their visually stimulating character they are highly suitable as motifs in psychedelic art. In nature, concentric circles are formed when a small stone or such is dropped into still water. It is fascinating to think that humans at the dawn of humanity saw the same concentric circles in water as we do today. One who often returns to the motif is American artist Fred Tomaselli. For example, concentric circles are seen in his artworks Ripples-Trees (1994) and Abductor (2006), which have been used on the cover of David S. Rubin’s Psychedelic and Erik Davis’ Nomad Codes, respectively. Incidentally, concentric circles are also found in several kinds of shamanic art, including peyote inspired yarn paintings by the Huichols in Mexico.
One who took interest in psychedelic imagery at an early stage was Heinrich Klüver. In 1926, while studying the effects of mescaline, Klüver noticed that it produced recurring geometrical patterns. Klüver gave them the name form constants. In addition to psychedelics, form constants may for example also be triggered by epilepsy, sensory deprivation, migraine headaches and fever. Klüver categorised four types of patterns: lattices, cobwebs, tunnels and spirals. Another term for such geometrical patterns is entoptic images. These animated “films” are obviously a source of inspiration to the psychedelic artist. For those not accustomed to the psychedelic experience, it is important to mention that entoptic images induced by psychedelics are very different from self-controlled fantasies or daydreams. Rather than being cooked-up, the imagery is presented to the psychonaut with little or no control over its content.
Continuing this brief exposition of psychedelic imagery, let us now turn to one of Klüver’s form constants – the spiral. In her book An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols, J.C. Cooper says the spiral is “a highly complex symbol” that has been used since paleolithic times and appears in many different cultures. Among many things, the spiral is a symbol of the great creative force and the manifestation of energy. It also symbolises the realms of existence and the wanderings of the soul and its final return to the Centre (Cooper, 2013: 156). The spiral has a shape that makes most art and design look instantly psychedelic, and if one makes an internet search for spiral images one is bombarded with trippy results. Spirals are common on front covers in psychedelic literature. Presumably, the shape lends itself particularly well to the rather compact book format.
Long hair is seen in numerous psychedelic artworks, especially those made by the LSD counterculture. This is hardly a coincidence. Hair flowing loose – like the woman’s hair in the previously discussed Job poster – symbolises freedom. Hair is also a symbol of the life-force and the higher powers (Cooper 2013: 77). With this in mind, the popularity of long hair during the hippie era as well as among forerunners such as the adherents of the Lebensreform movement makes perfect sense. Moreover, hair is a distinct feature in an art project where an anonymous artist took LSD and drew eleven self-portraits over nine hours. During the trip the hair in her drawings changed character, e.g. spirals were added to her depictions, and, interestingly enough, her hair grew longer and became flowing and expansive (independent.co.uk).
The psychedelic experience is strongly linked to imagery that is intensely colourful, and psychedelic art often places great emphasis on recreating how colours are perceived behind closed eyelids while in altered states. Fascination with colours was seen already in the late 19th Century when westerners started to experiment with peyote. For example, in his classic 1896 trip report “Remarks on the Effects of the Mescal Button: An Experience with Peyote Extract,” published in The British Medical Journal, Dr S. Weir Mitchell talks of “floating films of colour” and “gorgeous colour-fruits.” Mitchell even stated that, “All the colours I have ever beheld are dull as compared to these” (erowid.com).
In a chapter titled “Of LSD, Eidetic Imagery and Eyeless Sight,” published in his book The Symbolism of Color, the one time leading colour expert Faber Birren discusses how psychedelics can completely alter the way we see colours. Even though Birren comes across as somewhat ignorant when it comes to the counterculture (which he calls a “drug cult”), he was clearly very fascinated by the consciousness expanding effects of acid: “The amazing discovery was made that a fantastic world of color existed within the human psyche. It lay buried as if in a golden cask, and a drop of LSD opened it up and let its magic burst forth. Here the process of vision was reversed – it came from the inside out, not from the outside in”(Birren, 1988: 161-162). It is safe to say that colour is a hugely important aspect of psychedelic art, not least spiritually. In 1912, long before psychedelic art was a recognised artistic genre, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky said that, “Colour is a power which directly influences the soul” (Kandinsky, 1977: 25). Presumably, many psychedelic artists would agree with the painter.
Psychedelic journeys are potentially therapeutic, even life-changing experiences, but the effects of psychedelics are sometimes too emotionally overwhelming. This situation may lead to a difficult experience (a so-called “bad trip”). In such cases psychedelic imagery may be perceived as highly unpleasant with many grotesque visions. However, it should be said that positive psychedelic experiences often include at least some dark elements too. Clearly, the presence of the latter does not make the journey any less valuable. On the contrary, getting through dark passages of a trip may prove to be highly transformative and healing. In fact, the psychedelic experience – just like life itself – contains both darkness and light. This duality is an aspect that has been known and acknowledged all along by writers and researchers in psychedelia. For example, when psychiatrist Humphry Osmond coined the term psychedelic in a correspondence with Aldous Huxley in 1956, Osmond described the psychedelic experience as a state where one may “fathom Hell or soar angelic”. Interestingly, as will be touched upon in a moment, many artists working in the field of visionary art tend to focus mostly on positive psychedelic experiences.
Psychedelic art was established as an artistic genre in the mid to late 1960 (about a decade after the word “psychedelic” was coined). The first book on the style, simply titled Psychedelic Art, was published in 1968. Edited by Robert E.L. Masters and Jean Houston, the book provided important documentation of some of the psychedelic art of the counterculture era and for decades it was the only major work discussing the genre.
When it comes to art that relates to the psychedelic experience, many people have started using the term visionary art. Although visionary art can seem more or less synonymous with psychedelic art, it should be mentioned that there are subtle yet important differences between the two. Visionary art typically places a strong focus on spirituality, and when it comes to artists working in the style today many take inspiration from ayahuasca shamanism. Furthermore, many visionary artists are very skilled painters, which may explain why there is a great emphasis on technical ability within the genre. Psychedelic art on the other hand tends to deal with a wider range of themes and usually comes across as less religious, and may include humorous, absurd or erotic elements. Historically, psychedelic art has involved several different techniques, which are not typically used by visionary artists. In addition to painting and drawing, techniques include collage, video, sculpture and light shows. Considering the differences between these two styles, it is unfortunate that psychedelic art and visionary art are sometimes believed to be one and the same.
A somewhat stern critic of visionary art is Finn McKenna, the son of legendary writer and “bard” Terence McKenna and ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison. In a 2014 interview with Tao Lin of Vice Magazine, Finn McKenna describes the style as being “embarrassingly self-serious.” In addition, he thinks visionary art has an over-emphasis on positivity, and as a consequence the style disregards the duality of darkness and light that is inevitably part of the psychedelic experience. “The scene is severely lacking in the irony, biting humor, and cosmic ridiculousness that Terence articulated,” he says (vice.com).
One of the better-known psychedelic artists working today is the aforementioned Fred Tomaselli. Although some of his artworks may at first seem similar to visionary art, Tomaselli has an approach to psychedelic imagery that is very different from what is found among most visionary artists. According to art critic Ken Johnson, Tomaselli is a kind of pop artist that is toying with clichés of the psychedelic style (dosenation.com). Clearly, very few visionary artists would be described in a similar way. (This is not to say that artists working in the field of visionary art haven’t produced excellent artworks.)
It may seem overly simplistic to lump together a dozen or so motifs and make the claim that they are the building blocks of psychedelic art. Needless to say, I am well aware that art can be much more complex and mysterious than what one may initially think. That said, the fact remains that numerous psychedelic pictures – whether they are contemporary art, graphic art or lowbrow art – contain the motifs and features that were mentioned at the beginning of this piece. Take for instance legendary poster artist Rick Griffin’s front cover illustration of the 1969 album Aoxomoxoa by the Grateful Dead. Originally a concert poster, the artwork is one of the most memorable examples of psychedelic art from the counterculture era. Seen in the image is a warped landscape where its vegetation – which consists of motifs such as mushrooms and trees – is shown in x-ray. (Incidentally, the latter is a feature that was also seen on the cover of The Incredible String Bands’ The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion, designed by Dutch design collective The Fool.) The lower part of Griffin’s image features a skull, and right above it is a glowing sun that is being penetrated by what appears to be sperm. The shape of the sun and its variations in colours are made up of concentric circles. One of the strong points of the image is Griffin’s exquisite lettering, which features a so-called ambigram. As is well known among Deadheads, hidden in the words “Grateful Dead” is also the phrase: “We ate the acid.”
Interestingly, most of the motifs seen in psychedelic art of the 2010s are the very same as those used by earlier generations of psychedelic artists. This is evident in Juxtapoz Psychedelic, a book that presents several artists that can be categorised as being psychedelic. For example, Pearl Hsiung often includes concentric circles in her artworks; Oliver Hibert’s paintings feature nudity and mushrooms; and the works of David D’Andrea include motifs such as the eye, non-human animals and skeletons. Incidentally, the latter admits to having a “love for eternal symbols” (Juxtapoz Psychedelic, 2013: 204). Of course one could say that psychedelic art of today is influenced by the counterculture of the 1960s. Undoubtedly, the motifs and features discussed in this piece became firmly embedded in people’s minds during the hippie era, and have stayed that way ever since.
Psychedelic art – how fascinating as it may be – can only ever be a poor imitation of the psychedelic experience. This is not to say that such art is of inferior value. On the contrary, psychedelic pictures may play a hugely important role in a person’s life. If anything, these artworks can be reminders of earlier life-changing visionary journeys, and being in the presence of psychedelic imagery on a daily basis can certainly be of help when it comes to integrating such experiences.
By Henrik Dahl
This article was originally published in The Fenris Wolf 8 (Trapart, 2016).
Featured image: An illustration of the human eye (illustrator unknown).
Birren, Faber, The Symbolism of Color (Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1988)
Cooper, J.C., An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols (London: Thames & Hudson, 2013)
Dahl, Henrik, ”Visionary Design Through the Power of Symbolism: An Exposition of Book Covers in Psychedelic Literature”, in The Fenris Wolf 7 (Stockholm: Edda Publishing, 2014)
DoseNation, “DoseNation 25: Ken Johnson, Psychedelic Art,” 2013, http://www.dosenation.com/listing.php?id=8770
Halifax, Joan, Shaman: The Wounded Healer (New York: Crossroad, 1982)
Hooton, Christopher, “Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects,” The Independent, 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/arts- entertainment/art/news/girl-takes-lsd-draws-herself-over-different-stages-of-the-9hour-trip-to- show-its-effects-10474372.html
Jung, Carl G. (Ed.), Man and his Symbols (St. Louis: Turtleback Books, 1968)
Kandinsky, Wassily, Concerning the Spiritual in Art (New York: Dover Publications, 1977)
Lin, Tao, “Psychedelic Drugs, Art, Music, and Other Drugs: An Interview with Finn McKenna,” Vice, 2014, https://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/psychedelic-drugs-art-music-and- other-drugs-an-interview-with-finn-mckenna-815
Ludlow, Fitz Hugh, The Hasheesh Eater: Being Passages from the Life of a Pythagorean (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006)
Masters, Robert E.L. & Houston, Jean (Eds.), Psychedelic Art (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1968)
Mitchell, S. Weir, “Remarks on the Effects of the Mescal Button: An Experience with Peyote Extract”, Erowid, 2005, https://www.erowid.org/experiences/exp.php?ID=42614
Papaspyrou, Maria, ”Femtheogens: The Synergy of Sacred Spheres”, in Psychedelic Press UK 2014 Volume 5 (Falmouth, Cornwall: Psychedelic Press, 2014)
Stouffer, Hannah (Ed.), Juxtapoz Psychedelic (Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press, 2013)
We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms,
all enjoy the same glorious freedoms,
and we all salute
the same great American sprawl.
In the urban sprawl of Detroit
or the windswept plains of Detroit
or the windswept plains of Nebraska,
they look up at the same night sky,
they fill the same night sky,
they fill their heart with the same dreams,
their heart with the same dreams,
and they are infused with the same almighty Creator.
So, in every city near and far, small and large,
from mountain to mountain, and from mountain
to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, from ocean
to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again.
Your voice, your hopes, and your again.
Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams,
will define our American destiny,
dreams will define our American destiny.
And your courage and goodness and love
will forever guide us along,
will forever guide us along the way.
Together, we will make America the way.
Together, we will make America strong again.
We will make America wealthy strong again.
We will make America again.
We will make America proud again.
We again. Again. And, yes, again.
We understand that a nation is we,
understand that a nation is only living
as long as it is living, as long as it is striving.
We will no longer accept time never doing anything,
the time for empty talk is over.
Now arrives the hour of action.
Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be,
anyone tell you it cannot be done.
No challenge can match the heart and fight
and spirit of heart and fight and spirit.
We will not fail.
We are ready to unlock the mysteries,
to free the Earth from the miseries of America.
It is time to remember that old wisdom time
to remember that wisdom and bring back dreams.
We will build new dreams.
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to will,
a total allegiance to each other.
We must speak our disagreements
and always pursue our decay.
We’ve made other countries disappear over the horizon.
One by one, disappeared over the horizon,
and now we are looking only to the future.
America stops right now.
Rupert M Loydell
[first published at the Erase-Transform Poetry Project]
Illustration/Montage: Claire Palmer
Hello. I am a feature
on a CCTV camera, with
private resonance. At
the top floor, I
can barely sleep for the sound of gunfire.
I hear the poetry when I order a pizza.
Still there, are you?
…‘yeah, vegetarian cheese that’s correct, please’…
the signal is fading.
Hello. Bullet, welcome
back to my flesh.
We are both refugees, I gather,
my dear child what remains of a street, a sequence
when the memory is no longer needed?
Yeah, call me Bob for short
or just B. Capital B.
Call me death or whatever you want
and put an end to
this age of anxiety.
Behind the bar
In front of wolves
Beer wine and some shots
Facing me in the crowd
She’s throwing her image at me –
You look like this and that
Of me back to me
And that awful comedian
Hear it every time
Illustration Nick Victor
history is not written in stone,
nor is it actually true,
history changes almost day to day,
it more a thing we create and believe,
making the days easier to get through,
people are such fucking morons,
manipulated both in the present,
and the past,
facts do not change,
only the way they are used,
Alice in wonderland,
the world in which we live,
reality warped and weaponized,
history only gravestones . . . .
caged bird –
watching the butterfly
sow stares through crate bars
remembers ancient woodlands
(when her will was free)
first snowfall –
soon to be boiled
the playful pig
male calf born today!
(he’ll be shot through mouth tomorrow)
human milk snatchers
the year ends –
how long will that turtle
badger slumped on verge
bullets pepper his soft chest
victim of sick lies
the sold pony
looks back at mother…
pregnant Dartmoor mare
sent to Italy for ‘meat’
summer’s post-card girl
boars and bears
are my neighbours
storm pounds the glass pane…
lambs clinging to oaks in fields
(heart sinks like granite)
which one of those
will the arrow hit?
panicked vixen stalls…
they will rip apart her cubs!
bystander turns sab
she cries and attacks
the human goblins…
to the pufferfish
in the next life don’t
be like me
Heidi Stephenson and Kobayashi Issa
Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) known by his pen name Issa (“Cup-of-tea”) was one of Japan’s four great haiku masters. His compassion and empathy for our fellow beings was legendary. These verses in English translation, which I have interspersed with my own, are from Professor David G. Lanoue’s 2014 book: Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective. http://haikuguy.com/animals.html
Picture: Claire Palmer
The recommended dose.
Come what way, being alive is a smog of sorrow and pain, and passing time will never prove us wrong.
Remove from the ground a typical piece of fruit.
It is always suffering.
Juiceless, lifeless, and close to seeing requiem.
Have you ever been at the centre of a long-running unconsciousness involving Akathisia?
I have, I was spiritless and scared.
I was sitting in my folks recently renovated show home
It was 6 pm, dinner was placed on the table hot from the stove
I dreaded dinner, I hated food, and I never ate.
My medication – Fluoxetine 30mg, Sertraline 50mg, Thiamine 100mg, Vitamin B (strong), Multivitamin, and Valium.
A mixture in the mind of a sickening junkie.
I liked them [the tabs], but they seriously stressed my bowls.
My old man has an old mind. He works 7-days a week, never gets ill, loves a drink, and is always on a winning streak.
I was secretive towards him with reason.
So I sat down in front of a small plate of salmon, peas and potatoes.
I reached for the salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
I took a small bite of the most divine salmon, forced me to skip a breath due to its rareness.
But then it hit, Splat! like a fucked up pigeon just met with a window.
It was not a dud feeling, every single hair on my arm was now fibrous.
A cold thought came the second I closed my eyes.
I woke up around 6:30 pm in pitch black. Two hours after dinner. I held my hand in front of my face and felt the cold silver from my bracelet. My stomach turned and played the sound of a controlled vibrato. Nausea felt disgusting, a fuckin’ corker that sent me down. I thought I could control it, but each inhalation felt like the swallowing of my own black stool; curdling with a jet of stinking farts that travelled throughout my Anterior.
Try to explain a universe of paradox, like the story of The Great Gatsby – you can’t win them all but you can try.
The chronic diarrhoea hurt my ass like the first dick and demanded a reaction more vicious than the star-spangled flag is to this world. The narcotics fizzed among my stools creating a bleak orientation that compelled illness inside of me. It took over my body in every way possible, slowly turning me into a cold incubus. I stumbled 5 yards to the toilet from my bed for a good three hours. My mum kept me warm and occasionally patted my forehead with a damp flannel. I had the wrong attitude of being afraid, as her grip on my hand tightened and almost hurt.
For the next few hours, I slid into darkness through a bottomless pit. In a new dimension, I travelled around an unknown sphere. My parent’s faces switched between reality and animation, shifting between man and woman. I tossed and turned trying to flee from the lion’s face that had suddenly formed in the paperbark maple tree outside my window. I went on and on, until wet through to the cotton sheets and lying in a puddle of anxiety. The hallucinations deepened, leaving my body in spasmodic stroke. My only recollection of feeling was on the surface of my skin. The hairs on my body felt like a warm shadow in a casing of needles. Causing conflict with each movement, before my thoughts suddenly turned to time.
111 the number of reality
As I rested the phone on my cheek there was an unpleasant hissing sound in my ears. I was oblivious to who I was talking to, or even where the voice [man or woman] was coming from. But the questions began: –
Can I ask your name and your age? – Are you on any medication? – Are you comfortable? – Are you confused? –Can you talk to us please; we need to know? – How is your temperature? – Are you hallucinating, if so what are you seeing? – Is the room spinning? – Is your mind running? – Have you taken drugs? –Have you taken drugs, Zack, we need to know – Are you in pain or agitated? – Is it traumatic? – Is it tormenting? – Have you had thoughts of suicide in the past two days, any abnormal co-ordination, abnormal movements? – Have you had thoughts of murder or sensory disturbance? – Do you think you need an ambulance? – Have you felt like this before? –Have you ever tried to overdose? Do you live with your parents, are you with them now, can I speak with them, please?
The voice on the other end of the phone reminded me of a familiar feeling, one which I got from a mix of Valium cut with Cocaine – a concoction I called ‘the rusty double’.
An old man once said to me – “If it’s been prescribed its addiction for a lifetime”
I came into contact with Benzos through an old friend, who had a prescription for the pills for his anxiety. He gave me a handful once in a while that I would take to help me sleep. It wasn’t a regular thing and it took me a while before I started to enjoy the effects. Before long, I noticed that it calmed me in social situations with large groups.
Aside from the feeling – my addiction to the two drugs combined was 50% scientific to my mood. I experimented with the drugs like a scientist – finding the perfect balance was key. The early effect was intense – a substantial burning in the nose was soon doused by the loss of feeling. A lesser perception of reality came later from the valium, it had all the apparent effects of opiates; with its magic, warm-weather type feeling. But unlike opiates, the rusty double allowed me to command my self-glorified mood.
After the phone call / Hospital bed
An appointment was arranged at the Manor Hospital. The journey to arrive was torturous. I dipped in and out of a daydream sleep with sickening thoughts of suicide. Fortunately, I had a pound coin for a wheelchair. I was shoved through A&E like an ornament of royalty, before being ploughed through a less bloodshed mental ward. I stationed among a few patients, that were also following instructions from a film coated substance that had been diagnosed.
I felt lost among the strongest split of personalities, with no one knowing who was who. It smelt like cat stink and the obnoxious kids cheered with great annoyance at the international football highlights. The hours rolled on, and after the third, I began to feel vexed.
Living doped on illegal drugs in a hospital in front of my parents left me sank into my chair; curled up like maggot suffering from sleep paralysis, with all my valiant attempts to interrupt the lethargy intercepted. The valium that night knocked me for six. The bitter taste of a lime as I licked my lips I couldn’t handle, already looking gaunt and skeletal, it threw my face in all directions. Scratchy and dry – but matching dad’s eyebrows was the least of my concerns as he looked uneasy, almost unhealthy himself. But still, he managed to pull off a smile that felt like a miracle.
Could it be
Being woken up by a prodding doctor, still in my wheelchair but hidden behind a silk curtain was a comfort close to falling in love. After rubbing my eyes and carrying out a cross-examination of his existence, the diagnosis of my illness was revealed as an allergic reaction to my medication. I had undergone several tests and provided samples of blood, piss, and saliva. I had no recollection of this but was informed by my folks.
I had passed through hell and fell out on the good side. I had never really thought about the deceased, or pictured suicide next to reality. But on this day, it seemed someone who wasn’t present was looking out for me when the only way I believed I could be happy was to be dead.
A note from now
I feel better, a lot better.
The singer born in Limerick shot to fame in the 1990s with the Cranberries, who sold millions of albums worldwide, aided by her passionate and haunting vocal style
Zombie – The Cranberries
‘Tell me where the swans go in the winter
I need to know if the mute ones can sing.’
– Kamand Kojouri
Mute: A Visual Document from 1978–>Tomorrow,
Terry Burrowa with Daniel MIller (320pp, Thames and Hudson)
I was really excited about getting a copy of this book, charting the presence of one of the great indie record labels, but I have realised that photos of record & CD covers aren’t very interesting, and neither are promo shots. I’ve also realised how few of the Mute label bands and artists are to my taste; and the ones that are, such as Appliance and Wire don’t get many pages here.
It all starts well enough: Daniel Miller says that he ‘saw electronic music as being more punk than punk.’ Quite right too, anything’s better than the sub-thrash of incompetent early punk, and Miller’s own release as The Normal, along with the likes of Robert Rental, Fad Gadget, DAF and Non were a welcome breath of air-conditioning, just as The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and others were elsewhere.
It doesn’t take long however for Depeche Mode to turn up: just one band here I cannot take seriously at all. I know they were known as ‘the bank’ at Mute for many years, since they sold so many CDs, so good luck to them, but they are down there with Yazoo for me: file under bad pop. Better are some of the Wire offshoot projects, and – though I don’t particularly like their music – The Birthday Party and Nick Cave. Then there is the very wonderful Mark Stewart and his paranoid dub workouts, a real star prophet of doom.
Later on, Mute got back into a European groove with the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Laibach, and the reformed Wire, then jumped on the Madchester bandwagon with Inspiral Carpets, and tried (successfully, I might add) to promote ex-Magazine member Barry Adamson’s sonic films. They also released astonishing work by the very scary Diamanda Galas, and created The Grey Area label to reissue the likes of Can and other experimental bands.
Apart from the fact that there is no overall Mute style – in the way, for instance, the 4AD record label had – I suspect that by the time we got to the year 2000 I simply wasn’t Mute’s target audience. The dreadful Add N To (X) get maximum exposure here, along with the overrated Goldfrapp. In contrast, Appliance, who supported both of them on tour, get merely a couple of passing references, although their singer and guitarist James Brooks’ more recent Land Observations project gets a page to itself.
This is a beautifully produced hardback book, with the stitched spine showing, and its orange cover will set your coffee table alight, but it very much is that, a coffee table book for Mute obsessives. I wonder if there is such a breed? Most research has shown that few book publishers or record labels have or had fans who brought everything, or almost everything on the list. (Picador and 4AD were for a while two exceptions.) I can’t imagine anyone liking everything in here, can’t imagine who would want pictures of band product they don’t like. I’m afraid I think this book is slick and vacuous, although I am sure will sell shedloads.
Illustration Nick Victor
GRAHAM DAY & THE FOREFATHERS, ABOVE, JANITORS, ROYAL FLARES, VOLAGE and more.
The 90 minutes long show superbly highlights 60s psychedelic music, garage punk, , mods, Rock’n’Roll, Rockabilly, punk rock, psychedelia, acid-rock, beat, r’n’b, soul & early funk, space-rock, exotic sounds with sitarfuzz & … AND all good now-sound can be heard on Stoned Circus
www.stonedcircus.com (streaming, podcasts, playlist, records of the month)
As for their favourite image? It’s hard to pick one – after all, “our girls just serve face and slay.”
As we swing into the New Year, many are going to be feeling more than a little impatient that the perpetrators of the toxic air-born emissions which create engineered clouds over vast areas of our skies, still remain largely anonymous.
Anonymous by name, but no doubt to be found within the ranks of military industrial proponents and psychopathic secret society hegemons: those who hide behind the 1991 Hughes Aircraft atmospheric aerosol patent. The patent that formalized an engineering technique which alters the climate and sickens the planetary population with its debilitating fall-out.
There is a red line test that almost instantly reveals people’s awareness about these, and related, military activities. Just put the question “What do you think about 9/11? And how do you feel about chemtrails?” You might be surprised to find that those who you consider reasonably intelligent and quite thoughtful individuals, appear to be neither when asked to think about these two actualities.
This response to the first question would be quite typical “It’s obvious, 9/11 was an al-Qaeda mission led by bin Laden. There’s nothing suspicious about it.” And on chemtrails “They don’t exist”.
What one runs into when confronted with such an unquestioning response, creates a genuine human dilemma. Where can one turn if fellow human beings are unwilling to examine, in any detail, incriminating evidence that stands behind such crime’s against humanity?
However, things take on a vastly magnified significance once one seeks to solicit the truth from those well placed to actually know something about what goes on in the higher echelons of military defense planning, or amongst those concerned with environmental protection, weather forecasting and civil aviation. The silence in these quarters is deafening.
Atmospheric aerosol geoengineering (chemtrails) is one of the most crudely in-your-face debasements of civil justice and environmental and human health, ever to have been enacted upon mankind – outside of outright war.
Even if one thought it might be happening as some form of defense against ‘global warming’, one could hardly fail to realize that nobody ever asked if you, or anyone else for that matter, were in agreement for such an experiment to be undertaken in the sky above your home, and from one end to the other of your country of residence.
The mind tries to grasp how it could be that the smothering of our skies with toxic engineered clouds, a process that has been going on for at least two decades, could fail to elicit any response from the majority of mortals living on planet Earth. Yet most claim ‘not to have noticed’ these activities, and others have told me “I never look up”.
What an indictment concerning the state of imprisonment that great swathes of humanity try to make their peace with.
So what do we actually know about the manufacture of these aerosols? Who is behind them – and how are they dispersed in the atmosphere?
In short, we know that in 1975 the US navy was granted a patent which describes the dispersion method for a ‘powdered contrail’ able to sustain itself in the atmosphere for long periods. And in 1990 the US Department of Defense used the word ‘chemtrails’ as the title of a chemistry manual for pilots attending the US Air Force Academy. A manual that teaches how to make these aerosols. This is verifiable information in the public domain – so that does away with the ‘conspiracy theory’ factor straight away.
We know, from public records, that airborne chemical spraying – in one form or another – has been going on for at least sixty years. Early examples include cloud seeding during World War Two and in Vietnam during the US invasion of the late 1960’s.
Atmospheric geoengineering has come about and continues to operate, as a military project. In the 1980’s it became known as an ‘Environmental Modification Weapon’ (En Mod), and due to the widespread controversy this aroused, such techniques were banned under the auspices of UN Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques, 1987.
However this UN edict is not enshrined in law, and it is quite clear that whoever is behind the atmospheric weaponry, is not unduly phased, and continues to order the mining and smelting of vast tonnages of aluminium as well as other components such as barium and titanium; to be processed into a substance which is then spread around the world via aircraft flying at around twenty five to thirty thousand feet.
If anyone ‘official’ has anything to say at all about this activity, it is that “there is some discussion about using geoengineering techniques to counter the affects of sunlight as a cause of global warming.” We know that British and US governments have, since 2009, been ‘discussing’ the use of geoengineering to combat climate change via the spreading aerosols in the atmosphere.
In recent years more and more independent research projects, both in Europe and the USA, have revealed the presence of aluminium, barium and titanium in water courses far from any likely factory processing zones. In Germany and Switzerland recent research has revealed alarmingly high levels detected at many sites; and in France nanotech chemtrail ‘filaments’ have recently been recorded at locations all over the country.
Most of what I have described up until now is not new knowledge, but needs repeating so as to remind us of the extent to which the chemtrails phenominum has become a ubiquitous feature of modern life.
But why, given this fact, haven’t we nailed the perpetrators years ago? How could something so deadly be practiced on a global scale and yet manage to remain almost completely unidentified at source?
For example, how many millions of tons of alluminium are used in the course of a year’s spraying?
Where does it come from? Who organizes the shipments – the processing and the delivery to airports? How come governments remain totally silent?
The answer to these questions – that are out there – remain sketchy. Maybe because just a handful of dedicated self resourced activist researchers have, up until now, led the way in identifying just about all we know about these activities. That needs to change. Many more need to be involved and the exposure needs to be ramped up ten fold.
There is still some controversy concerning exactly how the spraying is carried out. What technology is used? Who fits it? Is it fitted to military and civilian commercial jet airlines ? And if so – how many people working in the industry know about this, but remain quiet?
I have been researching atmospheric aerosol geoengineering for the past ten years or more*(see end) and I have increasingly come to suspect that the high altitude dispersal method is achieved via mixing nanoparticulates into jet fuels and thereby into the exhaust gases of the aircraft’s jet engines. Observation alone, shows that the majority of trails start from the exhaust gases expelled at the back of the engine.
The fact that there are many reports of pilots becoming unconscious and passengers getting sick, due to fumes entering the cockpit and cabin, bears testimony to the existence of some highly toxic substances circulating around the fuselage of modern passenger aircraft. The air conditioning units in such planes are powered by the engines.
What exactly is the composition of the fuel going into these engines?
A recent study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, aimed to ascertain the composition of the exhaust fumes directly they leave the turbines of high flying jet aircraft. What the initial study found was very revealing: there were sixteen different metals detected in the composition of the engine exhaust – and they included aluminium and barium.
Now anyone with an ounce of intelligence is going to ask why would aluminium and barium be added to commercial jet fuels – not to mention the other fourteen metals.
We already know that ‘overt’ spraying is carried out by by specially adapted aircraft into which special tanks and equipment are installed, with spraying nozzles fitted externally. Engineers have photographed such apparatus in the fuselage of planes they have worked on, and these pictures can be found on the net.
But this form of ‘overt’ spraying cannot account for the large number of planes which spread the ‘covert’ aerosol trails that cover our skies, year in year out, from one end of the world to the other.
There has to be a vast network of internationally interconnected fueling bases involved in order for an operation of this magnitude to be realizable.
Only a highly sophisticated and globally managed operation could mastermind chemtrail activity on this scale.
It is highly probable, that standing behind this operation, is the same psychopathic secretive cabal that is behind all such manipulative global missions. Behind all attempts to take control of the planet and exert ‘full spectrum dominance’ over humanity as a whole.
A cabal which is familiar with mind control techniques, genetic modification of the food chain and the pharmaceutical repression of natural health. The existence of aluminium as a vaccination adjuvant has already been widely exposed. Its addition to airline fuels has not yet received the same attention – but clearly needs to.
Barium and strontium, the two other widely identified elements detected in water samplings, have equally damaging and degenerating neurological and internal organ repercussions, on both human and animal health, as well as a dangerously repressive affect on plant health. The almost continuous toxic barrage, which all species are subjected to, represents a direct threat to the gene pool upon which all life on earth is predicated.
Let’s make 2018 the year in which the brutality of chemtrail activity is decisively brought into the foreground of people’s attention worldwide; and let’s ensure that we can finally name the names of those behind this mass genocide. A genocide affecting every aspect of the unique biological diversity of our beloved and beleaguered planet Earth.
Foremost in our minds this coming year, should be the need to achieve the complete eradication of atmospheric aerosol engineering and an end to the secrecy which enables such heinous projects to ever get off the ground.
Julian Rose is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, a writer, actor and international activist.
He is President of the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside. Julian is the author of two acclaimed titles: Changing Course for Life and In Defense of Life, which can be purchased by visiting www.julianrose.info . He has just completed his third book ‘Overcoming the Mechanistic Mind’ for which he is currently seeking a publisher..
You can take a poet into a new idea but they may say nothing,
you can seat them in front of threnodies and burials and those
sunsets that switch on and off all of a life and you can remember
every word you never said and what they might have revealed,
particularly about what a silence is for and the way earth hides
wonders and when the stranger at your door reminded you of
what you always wanted to sing in the very last seconds.
But you did not do this, left it all to fall apart, never get its act
together, even in those dreams before they began or what you might
have regarded as a PS to your life, what somebody else might find,
these fiddle faddles of thought and crashes and unsaids as the
field fills slowly with ghost soldiers getting so near to home and
expecting everything to be so certain, the door not locked, the
windows filled with night and dawn and what music can remember.
© David Grubb 2018
I was there at White Sands
wearing sunglasses to watch
the detonation at the end of the world,
I was free-falling with Little Boy
through the skies above Hiroshima,
I was checking through comic-books on the
newsstand outside the Dallas Book Depository
when I heard the shots that took away our future,
I watch the 9:11 towers fall over and over,
on a million TV-screen repeat,
I hung around the Dakota Building
as John Lennon signed his final autograph,
something outside me takes the words away,
evil passes me blind on the sidewalk,
if this is a phase I’m going through,
when does it end and move
smoothly into the next phase?
is there a chart you can consult,
a graph that indicates you’re here,
moving up this sharp incline
towards that point there,
after which you move through
into the next phase where all this
mixed-up confusion resolves,
if this is a learning process,
when does the knowing set in?
because the more I’m seeing
the less I understand…
Photo Max Crow Reeves
government replaces God,
and pleas replace prayers,
faith in God lessens,
while faith in government abounds,
an opium for the masses,
look at the suicide rates,
a manipulation of hope,
unkown on this scope,
in all of history,
government the same as God,
demands a leap of faith,
believe the unbelievable,
populations will be controlled,
the poor to be fed,
faith in government,
an opium for the masses.
Is so abstruse and arcane
With internecine squabbling
About to leave or to remain
50 is the number when they triggered an article
More elusive to pin down than a sub-atomic particle
For a solution to this quandry
I shall add this short addendum
Every one will get the answer they want
In a never ending referendum.
Photo via Flickr user Rural Matters
A few years ago, the British tabloids worked themselves into a predictably unsubstantiated frenzy over the question of whether black pudding—that weird circle of blood sausage you find lingering on the side of your fry-up—was a superfood.
Back then, we laughed. There was no way congealed pig’s blood could reach sit among goji berries and chia seeds at the Goop-verified ranks of uber-health! But today, it seems that the Daily Mail has been proved right. Black pudding really does have super powers. Life-saving super powers, in fact.
Last month, 70-year-old butcher Christopher McCabe from Totnes in Devon made the short walk from his shop to an outdoor walk-in freezer to collect some bones for a customer. When he was inside the freezer, an unexpected gust of wind blew the door shut, trapping him inside.
The freezer’s temperature is kept at minus 20 degrees Celsius—far lower than a domestic freezer and capable of killing a human in around an hour. Unluckily for McCabe, the safety button that would have opened the door was frozen solid.
Speaking to The Independent, McCabe described his fear when realising that he was trapped: “My heart sank for a moment. Then I thought, ‘I’ll have to kick myself out of it. I knew no one would hear me if I called for help.’”
Thinking quickly, he looked around the freezer for something to batter the safety button with. Beef was too slippery and the joint of lamb too big, so he settled on a long, cylindrical roll of black pudding.
McCabe told the BBC: “It was the right shape. I used it like the police use battering rams to break door locks in. It was solid, pointed and I could get plenty of weight behind it. I’m lucky really. We sell about two or three each week and that was the last one in there.”
He also said: “Black pudding saved my life.”
Bet you goji berries couldn’t do that.
I have just released a song and its accompanying music video that I made with a friend..Angel, he’s from Bulgaria . We’re both students at the University of Westminster and decided to collaborate on a track together, myself taking care of the instrumental and video with Angel writing and performing the lyrics.
I Said to Love, Martyn Bates (Ambivalent Scale)
A new CD from any member of Eyeless in Gaza, or indeed the band themselves, is always a cause for celebration, and I Said to Love is no exception.
Whatever Martyn Bates may say about his song tendencies having always been present within Eyeless, this beautiful CD of songs is a million miles away from the raw and sometimes abstract post-punk music that Eyeless in Gaza were producing in the Midlands in the first half of the 1980s, and nearly as distant from the collages and experimental pop songs of later work.
Somewhere along the way Martyn Bates either got interested in or reasserted an interest in the voice as a lead instrument, perhaps drawing on traditional and folk musics. His collaborative releases included a fantastic trilogy of extended and reinterpreted murder ballads made with Mick Harris, as well as reinterpretations of James Joyce poems, as well as more straightforward solo releases, from the glorious 10″ LP Letters Written onwards.
On the surface, I Said to Love is an album of songs, sung by Martyn accompanying himself on guitar, but listening reveals a sonic depth: layers of sound such as cymbals, string feathers and ghost feathers [don’t ask!] provided by producer Alan Trench, and a variety of instruments and another voice provided by the enigmatic Elizabeth S. This isn’t just singer-songwriting, this is not busker material.
This carefully layered music allows these songs of despair, love, hallucination, anger and loss to shine. Bates isn’t afraid to emote or wail, celebrate or mourn. In ‘riches, crying moon’ he notes that ‘everything yr seeing/everything yr doing/you want it all for yrs’ is only ‘another damned thing – that you can add to what you’ve got’. Elsewhere there is ‘shimmering’ and ‘ruined flowers’ and ‘soft spoken lies’ where the narrator declares ‘I was blithely charmed to say […] my heart will be your home/how wrong could I be…’.
But it’s not all despair and misery. ‘i am bound’ is a declaration of love where ‘everything’s taken/n shaken/n made new once again…’ and the song ‘fight’ sees the singer battling storms and weeping songs to find resolution as he looks ‘wildly upon the song’. It is this trust in the song itself that makes Bates special and unique. He is a musical shaman, a word magician, who knows how to enchant and seduce his audience.
One of the joys of listening to Eyeless in Gaza is that their original indie album releases continue to be reissued and readily available, alongside the new work they still produce together and solo. I’d never have believed that 35 years on from their first LP I would still be listening, but here I am. Come and join us, bask in Martyn Bates’ melodic strength and way with words.
More information at http://www.eyelessingaza.com/mb.html#1
I dreamt you were on a sinking rowboat with three of your childhood friends
(you lunged at them the pestilent cursor of a spear and threw their draining
bodies overboard). I was pretending to be comatose under the hail smashing
into the glass ceiling, trying to stay still as each movement of the frangible bones
in my putrefying body sounded like the rasp and hiss of driving in snow, and wishing
I wanted gainful things in life like for my psyche to work like a machine, unpolished
politics, ambiguous anarchy, and for you to be a good person, but I somehow only wanted
idle things then, like a collection of used postcards from the interbellum, a 1972
Citroën DS Pallas, and for the glass to shatter and tear open my skin so that the hail
may enter me, instead of I it.
By Stephanie Luka
Stephanie Luka was born in 1997 to a Dutch mother and a Congolese father. She discovered her fascination with the arts only after quitting her career as a professional gymnast and entering the University of Amsterdam at the age of sixteen. Her work emanates mostly from dreams; it strives to acknowledge and interpret these fragmentary, illogical shards of truth, and to (re)construct them in a way that fabricates considerable lucidity and relevance without repudiating the ambiguities present. Stephanie is featured in the debut print issue of Allegory Ridge, and has forthcoming publications in Dissonance Magazine, The Metaworker, and Visitant Lit.
Illustration Nick Victor
Exjíbaro de LSD, Smiles
Two months ago I was standing in a pub in south London on a Saturday afternoon, having a conversation with a photographer. While desperately dredging my mind for a half-decent anecdote, I decided to re-tell a story I’d read on the internet the day before. It was about these remote villages in Wales, which, in the 1970s, had become the home of a psychedelic empire of LSD producers and dealers.
The group was modelled as a cell structure, which meant few of them were aware of each other’s existence (so that if one was arrested, the rest could continue uninterrupted). And yet despite that, a remarkable number of them all chose to base themselves in the exact same remote region of mid-Wales. Something about the area drew them in.
By the time they were busted, in 1976, they were supplying 90 percent of all LSD in Britain and 60 percent of all LSD around the world (although subsequent reports suggest these figures may have been slightly sweetened by the authorities to give the investigation some tabloid wow factor). Many of them weren’t drug manufacturers and dealers in the 21st century sense. They were authors, chemists and free-thinking visionaries who – yes, liked the money – but also firmly believed that if they flooded British society with 99.07 percent pure LSD it would truly change the way people think about politics, war, love and mother nature.
The undercover police operation and subsequent bust (which uncovered 6.5 million tabs of LSD and involved two police officers masquerading as wandering hippies for nearly two years) became known as Operation Julie. It is still the biggest ever counter-LSD operation in the UK, and has been re-told through countless articles, books and a few truly terrible TV adaptations, in which LSD is portrayed as some sort of demonic auto-suicide potion. The contrast of metropolitan gangsterism with rural comfort has always made it an irresistible tale – it was a bit like a really lovely Welsh Breaking Bad.
Now, it was back in the news because one of the (since retired) detectives involved had made new claims that a sizeable stash of the LSD is still buried somewhere in the area, and would still be active. It was enough to have the local Dyfed-Powys police force doing overnight patrols, for fear that would-be smugglers, dealers or just naive journalists might embark on an easter egg hunt to unearth some vintage microdots.
So, I finished telling this whole story to the photographer in the pub, and he looked at me and said, “We should go there,” and I said, “Nah.” The story had been told and I didn’t feel like wandering through a village with a shovel in the rain, looking for buried old rumours. And then the photographer said, “No, we have to go.”
Gay Talese once said, “The story never dies. There is always another story you can write 20, 40 years later about the same story.”
And now here we are, driving down a road that is not an A-road or a B-road, but a don’t-even-try-to-classify-me-road, peering anxiously at red flags and signs that say “BEWARE: MILITARY FIRING RANGE”, and beeping the horn at road-dwelling sheep who respond by having panic attacks and running face-first into the front bumper of the photographer’s red VW Polo.
The GPS says we are 15 miles from Llanddewi-Brefi; the timer says those 15 miles will take one hour and ten minutes. “Ha! Those are Welsh miles,” a lolling villager with sad eyes will tell me later in the pub.
THE GREEN DESERT
What isn’t North Wales or South Wales or East Wales or West Wales is known as mid-Wales. And in the middle of mid-Wales – straddling the counties of Powys, Ceredigion, and Carmarthenshire – is a place described in Welsh folklore as the Green Desert, thanks to its lack of proper roads or civilisation and its abundance of lush blue-green mountains, sloping valleys and ancient streams. I read on an astronomy website that if you look up here on a clear night, the naked eye will see the entire Milky Way stretching out across the black sky. And for some reason, this specific part of Wales has often cast a strange spell on people, luring them for various inexplicable reasons.
“You are as far away / As you will ever be from the world’s madness,” wrote Welsh nationalist poet Harri Webb – who was responsible for the popularisation of “green desert” – of this area in 1969. The LSD dealers must have agreed. As did Salman Rushdie, who deemed the area a suitable place to go into hiding in the 80s after the Ayatollah of Iran put a fatwa on his head. Numerous hippy free festival organisers also felt drawn in the 70s, bringing their thousand-strong parties primarily for the remoteness, but also for the liberty cap magic mushrooms that still grow rampantly throughout the valley.
The drive through the desert is a sublime and winding trail that goes up and then down and then up and then down seemingly forever. A dense forest of sitka spruce drapes seductively over the shoulders of the valley, and patches of yellowing within the fluffy greens turn golden and velour in the sunshine. At the foot there is a gushing stream that starts life up mountain as a waterfall, and it all looks a lot like a really great whisky advert.
For someone who’s just travelled from loud and stinking London, there’s an exultant strangeness out there, beyond the car window. It’s like the countryside is flexed; alive and breathing – and I can’t help but feel struck by an irrational and eerie sense that it knows we’re driving on it.
We pass a ghostly and abandoned presbyterian chapel deep in the wilderness called Soar Y Mynydd. Former US president Jimmy Carter used to come here for fishing holidays. Carter could fish anywhere in the world, but something about the green desert kept drawing him back. He bought a landscape painting of Soar-y-Mynydd for his art collection. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” he said.
The car sputters and chokes up a 40-degree incline (which, according to the GPS, is called the Devil’s Staircase) and swings round a hairpin to reveal yet another 400 yards of satanic climbing. These windswept zig-zag roads were never meant for VW Polos; they were routes used in the Middle Ages by the drovers, a mysterious and charismatic breed of Welshmen who made a living going around farms and collecting cattle for export, which they would then march to the markets of Birmingham, Manchester and London. Some drovers even marched geese, putting little leather booties on their feet so they didn’t wear away.
Later, drug smugglers would use the same routes to drove herds of LSD to some very different markets in England.
Right in the heart of this vast and undulating desert, perched on the side of a great big mountain, sits a village of no more than 500 people: Llanddewi-Brefi – a village that looks pretty much like every other village in Britain, and yet, when you dig beneath the surface, you notice the strangest quirks and peculiarities that begin to explain its mysterious magnetism.
THE KILLER IN THE HILLS
We arrive at 6.13PM on a Thursday evening. There is a silent deadness in the air, which is only enhanced by the way an incoming night sky has combined with some Turner painting rain clouds above to drench the village in a deep blue grey. The street is deserted, except for a lady in the graveyard tending to some flowers at a headstone.
Except for a few narrow lanes that spiral off it, this is a one road village, and all of the cottages, the pub, the village hall and the shop are built around it. It seems like the type of place where if your milk wasn’t taken in by 10AM, someone would knock to check if you were OK.
In the east, St David’s church has a god’s eye view, towering above every home. It’s perched upon a remarkably artificial-looking hump of earth. The story goes that St David, the patron saint of Wales, came here to preach around the year 560. As he began to address a large crowd of villagers, some complained that they couldn’t see or hear him, and so he summoned the flat ground to rise into a mound so he could be seen and heard. The church was built thereafter, and Llanddewi-Brefi (which translates roughly as Church of David on the River Brefi) earned its name.
Until the 2000s, the church was the village’s main tourist attraction. Then, in 2003, Matt Lucas and David Walliams used Llanddewi-Brefi in Little Britain as the home of Dafydd, AKA “The Only Gay in the Village”. They’ve never really explained why. People still arrive during the summer months to take photos next to the village sign. And on four separate occasions, it’s gone missing and re-appeared on eBay, much to the dismay of the local policeman. “I reckon about 99 percent of the village hasn’t seen the show,” said a local when the BBC and the rest of the mainstream media flocked here for vox-pops in 2004, “the rest find it funny.”
We get to the entrance of the village pub, The New Inn. This is where all the action took place during Llanddewi-Brefi’s acid years. On a busy night, the pub would be a mixture of locals, an LSD dealer called Smiles and his friends and associates, and the two undercover policeman, each of them either unaware of or hiding their true selves from the other, yet raucously getting pissed and playing darts together. Afterwards, they would all pile back to Smiles’ cottage for a few joints, a line of coke and perhaps even a trip.
Just as we’re about to open the door of the pub, a very pissed man comes tumbling out singing “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone. He looks embarrassed, so I tell him he has a good singing voice, and he shakes his head. “What are you two doing here anyway?” I forget subtlety exists and tell him we’re journalists from London, here to dig up some old LSD.
“Well…” he starts, “my mother moved here in 1972, and she did some babysitting for the LSD chemist and his wife. She phoned me one night and said, ‘John, it’s ever so strange. They have no furniture and strange pictures of–.'” He immediately hushes his voice as an old lady shuffles down the street beside us. We watch her pass, then turn back to face John, who has now bolted across the street and out of sight.
We walk into the New Inn to the predictable “Who’s this then?” silence, pierced only by the squeaking of old necks turning. Then everyone turns back to their pints and the ambient opera of pub chatter resumes, some in English, most in Welsh. It has the feeling of someone’s front room: everyone sits at the bar, nobody sits at the tables, but there’s no more room at the bar so we sit at the tables. It immediately ostracises us.
There’s a man on a stool wearing a hi-vis jacket, whose entire face is covered in dirt, just two little white eyes poking out. He finishes his pint and leaves. “He’s always mucky, but I never see him work,” someone says, “I think he must put the dirt on his face before he comes in.”
You can imagine how integral the existence of this pub must have been to the police bust. If it didn’t exist, I can’t picture how anyone would ever meet anyone around here, bar chance happenings at the postbox. Just as it is all over Britain, what’s left of traditional village life revolves precariously around the school, the church and the pub. But with rural schools like Llanddewi-Brefi’s ever under threat of closure, and churches increasingly under-attended, the onus has often fallen on the latter. That’s not to say the New Inn is bustling; it’s half empty, and I’m told it was half empty back in the 70s too. But in communities of this size there is literally nowhere else for people to simply be in each other’s company.
The walls are dotted with pictures of the local football team, paintings by a local artist called Geoff, photos of how the village used to look and notices for upcoming events. It isn’t just a pub; it’s a museum of village life. Before it was a pub, it was an inn for the drovers, with a stable over the road and field out back where they could park their cattle.
Already feeling like an outsider, I start easy by talking to a man with a Cockney accent, who looks to be in his fifties. He tells me he moved here when he felt London was getting too dodgy. He’d been sitting in a Harvester in Romford one day, eating his Sunday lunch, when a group walked in, sat on the table next to him and began “effing and blinding” about how they were going to stab someone. “That was enough,” he says. “We came here. Clean air, no crime rate. It’s like living in Romford 50 years ago.” He now owns the village shop.
Elaine is at the bar sipping a fizzy drink through a black straw. I don’t know what it is, because it was ordered as “the usual”. She was born in the village and used to be a teacher at the school, but has now retired. Her grandad was a blacksmith, and in her spare time she likes to go from village to village trying to find wrought iron gates and fences with his signature markings on them. It’s her way of getting to know him.
When I tell her I’ve come from London, she says, “Somebody has to.” And when I get the dictaphone out to record her, everyone looks at it like I’ve put a grenade on the bar and pulled the pin. As we talk, a man with a red puffy face behind her drinks Strongbow and stares at me intently. “Not everyone likes it when people talk about Operation Julie,” she says.
Elaine was a teenager during the acid days, and remembers them vividly. “We were quite naive, really. I suppose, looking back, it should have stood out: a guy with an English accent, velvet jacket and bell bottom trousers with a name like ‘Smiles’. They didn’t hide themselves either. Smiles would often be in the pub, lighting his cigarettes with £20 notes. One time he got talking to a man from the village who told him he didn’t have a TV. The next day he went and bought him one. But Llanddewi-Brefi was a melting pot back then, so we didn’t question it.”
I tell her I’m developing a theory that while most villages have one big story, this particular village seems to attract strange happenings at an abnormal rate. “Well, the 80s was a difficult time here…” she begins. “It was January, 1983. Someone had come into the house and said to my mother: ‘Well, I’ve just seen something I’ve never seen before, someone walking across the mountain in the dead of night…'”
The figure had been walking near Brynambor, a remote sheep farm owned by John Williams. The next day, some nearby farmers went to check on John after being told he’d failed to answer his door. They found him in the bedroom. He’d been shot five times with his own gun. The killer was soon discovered to be a 33-year-old English drifter called Anthony Gambrell, who was now on the loose and thought to be hiding in the hills. It sent shockwaves through the village. John Williams was well-loved; the treasurer of Soar-y-Mynydd chapel, he had been described as “the happiest man in Wales”.
The killer in the hills had been terrorising the village for years. Nobody knows why he first came, but he’d developed something of an obsession with Llanddewi-Brefi. He found occasional shepherding work and was known to sometimes sleep rough up the mountain. Six years before the murder, he’d broken into John Williams’ home and stolen a gun. Later, he’d taken an elderly couple hostage with a sickle. For centuries, British folklore warned petrified children of symbolic black dogs; evil and malevolent forces in the hills that strike fear into small communities. Now, Llanddewi-Brefi was living a nightmare made real.
The police feared he would could kill again, or at least take hostages. Villagers were told to lock their doors, check on their neighbours regularly and not to go out at night. They were given a secret code to use if in danger, and police called remote farms every half hour to check on them. The fear was too much for many, and 12 farmers moved away during the hunt.
The police eventually traced Gambrell: he’d fled to Hampshire. He was tried and sentenced to 30 years in prison at Lampeter court, nine miles from Llanddewi-Brefi. A crowd of villagers gathered outside the court to express their anger at him as he was bundled into a van. Last year a Welsh documentary series called Y Detectif revisited the murder. It discovered that Gambrell still sends letters to some of the residents of the village from his prison cell in Durham.
“We’ve never recovered the gun, which is a worry,” says former detective John Lewis during an interview in the documentary. “When he’s released, he might return to the gun. Who knows if he’ll come back?”
A SACRED MONSTER
Mr Ebenezer is sitting on the sofa in his conservatory, wearing a purple cotton jumper and beige trousers, peering through his rounded rectangular spectacles at the Cambrian News while Sky News blares in the background. He has a Daily Mail next to him too, which he buys every day so he can “stay aware of what the enemy is up to”. He speaks with a theatrical and earthy mid-Wales accent – it has a soft lilt and sing-song feel that makes you want to tap a beat out on your knees.
Through the conservatory door is the dining room, where Mr Ebenezer’s silver laptop sits closed, but ready at any point to be opened. Since 1967 he’s been a journalist and celebrated local author. Forty years ago, at around 11AM on a cold March morning, he was one of the first reporters on the scene to the bust of Operation Julie, wandering through the village as neighbours stood on the doorsteps observing the chaos, declaring they knew something was up all along.
“They didn’t know a bloody thing!” laughs Mr Ebenezer. It became the biggest story of his career, and he wrote a book about it, titled Operation Julie: The World’s Greatest LSD Bust. He tells me nobody has a bad word to say about the LSD guys around here: Smiles, especially, was bit of a local hero.
“I remember thinking about the story of how St David made the ground here rise from beneath his feet,” says Mr Ebenezer, “and thinking: those people making and taking all that LSD have probably seen things like that happening. Nothing’s changed round here at all!”
When I ask him if he thinks there might be some acid buried somewhere in the village he grins mischievously. “Oh, they love that talk in the village. They keep it going. I do think there must be stuff left, though, no doubt. Some say it might be buried in the quarry, but I think Smiles is behind that rumour. He was a very naughty boy.”
I ask Mr Ebenezer whether he knew of any other strange happenings in Llanddewi-Brefi, and his eyes light up as he begins talking about a mysterious man who appeared towards the end of the 60s, a decade before the LSD. “He was an amazing man. Bloody mad, but highly intelligent. A fugitive from The Krays apparently, and he had a scar from ear to ear.”
The man in question was David Litvinoff, an enigmatic and mercurial character in 50s and 60s London with as many connections to the worlds of rock and roll and fine art as he had to the aristocracy and the criminal underworld of The Krays.
The English jazz and blues singer George Melly described Litvinoff as such: “The fastest talker I ever met, full of outrageous stories, at least half of which turned out to be true, a dandy of squalor, a face either beautiful or ugly, I could never decide which, but certainly 100 percent Jewish, a self-propelled catalyst who didn’t mind getting hurt as long as he made something happen, a sacred monster, first class.”
One night in 1968, Litvinoff had a disagreement with one of his gangster associates and was badly beaten up. Shortly after that he vanished. When he re-appeared some months later it was in the Llanddewi-Brefi village shop, begging the shopkeeper to let him take some provisions on spec because he hadn’t sorted himself any cash yet. He had moved into a small whitewashed cottage with a slate roof on the edge of the village, called Cefn Bedd (which translates as Behind the Grave).
Soon, Litvinoff’s famous friends were arriving from London to visit him in this little village that he called his “Celticlimboland”, where “nothing is the norm and quite rightly so”. Between the years of 1970-72, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Marc Bolan, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and many more all made their way to Llanddewi-Brefi, much to the amusement and confusion of the locals. One time Litvinoff rounded up a group of excited older women in the post office after telling them he had Cliff Richard in the car outside, only for them to shrug with disappointment when it was actually a bewildered Keith Richards.
Notorious parties would take place at his home, a mixture of London friends and any young locals who were brave enough. “On sunny days,” writes Keiron Pim in his biography of Litvinoff, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, “he would hoist his stereo’s speakers up into the branches of the trees by the cottage and blast music out across the fields while he and his friends went skinny-dipping in the river or lounged naked on sofas in the meadow, smoking hash.”
When Mr Ebenezer visited Litvinoff at his cottage one afternoon, he noticed an invitation on the side to Jimi Hendrix’s funeral in Seattle. There was a boiled sweet attached to it: the message inside said the sweet was laced with LSD and instructed anyone who couldn’t attend the funeral to take it on the same day. In a series of events that led to Litvinoff leaving the village for good, he offered the sweet to a local policeman who was doing the rounds one afternoon. He spent the rest of the day splayed across Litvinoff’s sofa, hallucinating and shouting nonsense down his walkie talkie.
In the 60s and 70s, there was this growing notion of the rural idyll as an escape from a world that seemed to be spiralling repeatedly into war and chaos. Many had nostalgic conceptions of the countryside as a place straight from 16th century Dutch landscape paintings; where life is changeless and lived at a slow pace. There was a particularly English fantasy of the countryside as a more authentic, civilised and fulfilling world than the dirty, fast-moving and industrial reality of city life. It’s something that is returning again now, as people recoil from the hyper-connectedness of metropolitan existence and potential nuclear war, and start to dream again of absolute isolation via AirBnB river boats and huts in the mountains.
But, as observed by the sociologist Howard Newby, those Dutch landscape paintings were never portrayals of rural reality: they were utopian dreams of pastoral beauty created in adherence to a set of rules about what made a painting picturesque. And when Litvinoff – and many of the hippies and good lifers that would follow him – moved out to places like Llanddewi-Brefi, they often found that life was not perfect and simple, and that the countryside was an unrelenting place that came with its own unique demons.
“Litvinoff was too gregarious and urban,” explains Keiron Pim. “Whenever he visited London having been in Wales, he would just talk and talk because he’d been alone and couldn’t deal with the solitude. He was someone that needed people around him. Ultimately, Llanddewi-Brefi drove him mad.”
Litvinoff was taken to court when his dog massacred some sheep. Soon after, he left.
BEING STRAIGHT IS THE CRAZIEST THING YOU CAN DO
Smiles never set out to find Llanddewi-Brefi back in July of 1971, but he did anyway. He, his girlfriend and her daughter had been driving around various villages in Wales looking for For Sale signs. When all hope was lost they chanced upon Llanddewi-Brefi. Y Glyn cottage wasn’t for sale, but it was obvious nobody lived there. The man next door owned it. He asked Smiles for £1,250. Smiles offered £1,000 and they shook hands.
Smiles was one of the first hippies the villagers had seen up close. Others had passed through, but Smiles’ cottage was right on the main street. He frequented the pub often, joined the darts team and strolled around in bell bottoms and beads, with glitter on his face, henna dyed-hair and daubed eye shadow. He had long dark hair and a great big beard. At first, a few of the local lads wanted to kick his head in. Other villagers speculated about what business he was in; most assumed it was either pornography or bank robbery.
But through a mixture of kindness and ridiculousness, he soon charmed a village, who, by this point, had started to develop an eccentric worldview – or at least an increased openness to things happening around them that are not all that normal.
His cottage was a two-up, two-down, and those who had the surreal pleasure of visiting spoke of a huge Parvati (the Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion) hand-painted in the living room, and a big blue Shiv Shankar on the back wall. All the skirting boards had been painted to look like grass and snails. In one of the bedrooms upstairs, there was a paper mache of Jimi Hendrix stepping out of the wall, his hair made of copper wire. The kid’s bedroom had been turned into a paper mache cave, coloured light brown with a red and yellow streak, and decorated with reflective baubles. He’d removed the ceilings in both and converted them into a skylight, so they could all fall asleep beneath the stars.
During his time in the village, Smiles would become involved with the LSD network and go from being a reasonably low-level drug dealer to shifting 100,000 thousand tabs of acid per week, making him one of the biggest names in the operation. When the undercover coppers arrived in Llanddewi-Brefi disguised as wandering hippies, Smiles was the target.
Stephen Bentley was one of the undercover detectives. He wrote a book about his experiences, Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story, and is responsible for this summer’s claims that there is still a stash buried. He tells me over Skype that he became tremendously close to Smiles over the two years he spent undercover, and came within an inch of revealing everything to him the weekend before the bust. Smiles swears from the moment he met Bentley he knew he was a copper, but it was a case of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. Then, at 5AM on the 26th of March, 1977, Smiles awoke to the sound of his door being kicked it, and it was all over.
Over the years, Smiles hasn’t featured in any of the books or TV documentaries about Operation Julie, so I assumed he didn’t want to speak about those years any more. But I knew he was still around: I’d heard from a good source that he’d recently appeared at the funeral of one of the other men convicted in the 70s, and that he’d got everyone stoned in the smoking area of the wake. If anyone knew whether there was still some mythical LSD buried in the ground, it would be Smiles.
In the end, finding him wasn’t too hard at all, and after a day of correspondence he invited us round for tea. He’d left Wales and travelled all over the world, but in the end found himself not far from where he started: in the woods near the Welsh border, around two hours from Llanddewi-Brefi. Branches slap the windscreen and long grass that’s grown down the middle of the road strokes the engine as the spunky VW Polo tackles one more alien landscape: the long hidden path to Smiles’ house. It’s obvious nobody’s been up here in a car in quite some time. Finally, we turn a corner and see an old converted farmhouse.
Smiles answers the door to the sound of dogs barking. He has a commanding but kind face; icy blue eyes, a big grinning mouth, a strong nose and a long mane of flowing grey hair down to his shoulders. He’s wearing a tight blue shirt, corduroy trousers, bright red socks and loafers. His sleeves are rolled up to reveal forearms tattooed with dragons and serpents, which I would later find out are covers for old army tattoos. Spiritual-looking jewellery hangs around his neck and he has a fistful of silver rings. He speaks with a subtle Mancunian accent, weathered by years away.
We walk around the back of the house and sit at a summer table next to a pond. There’s old discoloured bunting hanging from apple trees, and the faint sound of wind chimes fills the air. With no through road, his own water supply and a poly tunnel out back growing every type of vegetable, he’s once again found his slice of isolation.
I notice the smaller of the dogs is dragging around an extendable dog lead attached to a rusty old axe head. Smiles catches me staring at it. “It’s not cruel, honest,” he says. “He’s a runner, you see. Last time he was gone for nearly two days and returned starving, cold and mucky in the dead of night. We have to keep him on that when we’re out here.”
My first question is the most obvious one: Why Llanddewi-Brefi? “That’s the question, isn’t it. Why? I’d sure like to know why everything happens there. All I know is we were well drawn.” Second question: What was it like to take possibly the greatest acid ever made? “It blew your head.” Third question: is there any buried? “No, sorry, it’s bollocks.”
At this point, Smiles pulls out a long and meaty green joint rolled in transparent cellulose skin, lights it and takes a series of harsh and experienced tokes. It reminds me of watching a professional tennis player deliver a serve. He offers me the joint. I don’t really smoke, ever, but I figure: when else am I going to be offered weed in the back garden of a former international drug dealer. I take two long and clumsy drags that probably look more like Mr Blobby delivering a tennis serve.
“Llanddewi-Brefi was just another Welsh village, really,” begins Smiles. “There was nothing to mark it out as special, but then it turned out to be very special. You know, I turned the bread man onto acid, the milkman onto acid, even the man that sold me the house. He was a religious fella as well. He was doing alright and then he left the room. Suddenly, I could hear singing coming through the walls. I went round and he was covered in sacks, singing hymns at the top of his voice. Then he decided he was dying, so I held his hand as he died several times. We had some fun, I tell you.”
He carries on talking, but my head starts spinning. I focus intently on not losing my shit, which makes me lose my shit because I’m not listening to what he’s saying any more. I look up. He’s stopped talking. I look down at the questions I’ve written in a notepad. They don’t make sense. I look at the spliff. It looks like a gun in a baby’s hand. I slowly place it back on the table, hoping he doesn’t notice. He does. “That you, is it?” says Smiles, chuckling. From my limited knowledge of weed, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that is some strong shit. His wife walks out with a plate of biscuits. A mixture of shortbread and chocolate digestives. I eat eight.
Smiles served five years for his part in the LSD network, but has no regrets. “You have to just live each day as it comes,” he says. “One of the things LSD teaches you is that it’s now. This is now. This is it; the only reality. The money was neither here nor there to me. There was this feeling back then that we were really going to change the world for the better. Acid made you realise that there are greater ways to deal with the problems we face than the ones we use, because look at where we are now.”
At 70 years old, Smiles now talks about UK drug culture as a narrative he’s no longer part of, and he’s quick to assure me he is long retired. But he still monitors it all from a distance. The rise of ecstasy surprised him. To Smiles, it’s a relatively inconsequential and meaningless substance. “It’s amphetamine-derived, isn’t it… so it makes you want to go and stand in a field and dance, but you aren’t really bothering anyone except your immediate neighbours. You aren’t going to change the direction of society and radically alter the way you think; you’re just going to dance and sweat every weekend. I think that has set us back a bit. The world needs another major LSD supplier.”
I tell him it all sounds pretty crazy, this idea that acid can change the world, and he throws his hands into the air and says: “Being straight is the craziest thing you can do, kid. Look at all the crap we do when we are straight. All the time, every fucking day, just keep peddling!”
ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM, BOOM BOOM BOOM
On our final night in Wales, we travel back to Llanddewi-Brefi for one last drink in the New Inn. I still want to chat to the pub landlady, and I find her exactly where we left her, perched on a stool behind the bar, pulling pints and occasionally flicking through an iPad.
She took over the pub 27 years ago, and has never strayed far. She knows every face here, and exactly where they live. When I ask her if she enjoys running the pub, she says, “I must do.” Her favourite part of the village is the sign, because when she sees it she knows she’s home. “The village,” she admits, “does seem to have some sort of… hold on people,” before muttering something about raves. What raves? “Illegal raves up the mountain.”
She describes hearing a commotion outside one Saturday night last June at around 10.30PM; honking horns, revving engines and people shouting. “All you could hear was ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM!” she says. She peered outside to find a scene one part Mad Max, two parts Only Fools and Horses, as an endless flurry of clapped-out vans and dodgy cars raced through the village and up the mountain. “Then the music started, and you could hear it from the village for days – BOOM BOOM BOOM!”
I search the internet for it on my phone and find a video on YouTube titled “UKTEK 2016 LLANDDEWI BREFI”. And there it is: hundreds of young people dancing and screaming in front of a sound system to a backdrop of lush pine forests, double inflated NOS balloons in their hands, tripping and ramming into each other as a DJ plays a hardstyle version of “Macarena”. The music has changed, the drugs have changed, and yet all these years on people still feel drawn to the exact same village in the vast Green Desert of Wales.
We leave the pub, walk into the carpark and look up. The astronomy website was right: a bullish Milky Way is out in full effect, splashed across the sky like a dropped ice cream. The stars aren’t twinkling, they’re roaring, and the moon is so bloated and overweight it looks like it might keel over. It’s absolutely fucking beautiful, and a thought as old as centuries drifts into my mind: maybe I should move to Llanddewi-Brefi.
Some names have been changed to protect anonymity
More VICE long reads:
Toutes les images sont publiées avec l’aimable autorisatio du Museum Of Bad Art.
The Museum Of Bad Art has “exacting standards,” according to Permanent Acting Interim Executive Director Louise Sacco. When considering new acquisitions, MOBA looks for artworks with that “special quality that sets them apart in one way or another from the merely incompetent.” Curator in Chief Michael Frank regularly sifts through offers from prospective donors across the globe, and he and others scour flea markets, thrift stores, and curbside trash to find striking pieces worthy of the MOBA spotlight. Word has spread so effectively that trash collection companies even call the museum with tips on spectacularly bad finds.
The museum’s beginnings date back to 1993, when antique dealer Scott Wilson spotted an oil painting in the trash—the now iconic Lucy in the Field with Flowers. Wilson’s friends encouraged him to start a collection, and he began holding receptions in his home. Attendance grew and the collection found a permanent home in the basement of a community theater in Dedham, Massachusetts. When the building later found itself in the hands of a new owner who did not see MOBA as a good fit, the museum established its main gallery in the Somerville movie theater. It also operates branch galleries in Brookline and South Weymouth, near Boston.
Today, the collection counts over 600 works, with approximately 60 on view at any given time. All are original and made with sincere intentions—no works on velvet, paintings by numbers, or well-known kitschy motifs allowed. Presumably because of storage constraints, most pieces are two-dimensional. From undeniably awful renderings of the human form to perplexing landscapes and unfortunate experiments in pet portraiture, the collection dutifully embodies the museum’s slogan of “art too bad to be ignored.”
In addition to ongoing exhibitions at their three locations, the Pember Library & Museum in Granville, New York, is currently featuring MOBA works in their Dreadful Art show, and the Harvard Business School will host a small show in September. Explore the Museum Of Bad Art’s collection on Google Open Gallery, and stay up-to-date on recent acquisitions via their Facebook page.
in the moment
when my brother
has a son,
single life –
I do not wish
to go on.
a puppet with
bones were I –
a skeleton with eyes
And my crown
cut from my body
to sink ships
the coral reef
the epidemic feeds.
On the fishes
under rocks in disguise,
some without mothers –
some younger than others –
some in a blitzkrieg war
of their own.
And its crazy
but they’re drowning,
its crazy to see
that they’re buffering –
like all things nowadays,
is that what we do
when we’re sleeping?
When we’re weeping,
I expired and lost my voice
I am different
than in the deadly heat
of one month ago.
as I was before my
summer in love.
I see dusk
outside my window
and new flowers opening
after reincarnation –
The loose petals
that have bitten the dust
are sewn –
into a secure bouquet
and await the growth
of the amazon
where they meet.
In a virtual Brazil,
a place full of unwell wit.
A raid on future life
like I had never felt depression.
A raid on future life
considered paralysis –
and dare I say a luxury.
Pencil prescriptions –
milligrams seen as
a number of hierarchy,
the enthusiastic support
is not enough to
as I’m catapulted
into another test.
serve to bribe
through paralytic times,
feeding the veins –
splitting the crust
on sewer waters.
at it’s strongest in
my darkest hour,
with nothing more
than a silver spoon beside
My reflection –
Animated Trump haiku Please press on the link below.
The Donald’s actual tweets chopped into thirds
as wise haiku-like koans:
by David Devanny
Then creation recognised its Creator in its own forms and appearances. For in the beginning, when God said, ‘Let it be!’ and it came to pass, the means and the Matrix of creation was Love, because all creation was formed through Her as in the twinkling of an eye. The Holy Spirit as Sapientia St. Hildegard von Bingen.The Mother Goddess, wherever she is found, is an image that inspires and focuses a perception of the universe as an organic, alive and sacred whole, in which humanity, the Earth and all life on Earth participate as ‘her children’. Everything is woven together in one cosmic web, where all orders of manifest and unmanifest life are related, because all share in the sanctity of the original source. However… the goddess myth (is) nowhere to be found…our mythic image of Earth has lost this dimension. Anne Baring and Jules Cashford, from The Myth of the Goddess
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people. Chief Seattle
Millennia of materialistic, linear, expansionist and patriarchal culture are bequeathing us a distorted and disfigured planet and culture. A group of artists – Kate Walters, Jim Carter, Professor Penny Florence, Professor Tanya Kryzwinska, Valerie Dalton, Max Burrows, Karen Lorenz, Sara Samuelsson, Maggie O’Brien, Mat Osmond, Jo Jewers, Scarlette Von B., Faye Dobinson, Otter Rose-Johns, Sally Tripptree and Karina Countess Von Borowski Hosking – are working towards an exhibition which is calling back to life those quiet, submerged, yet insistent threads of the feminine regenerative principle.
Their exhibition, and works in progress, will be shown at Newlyn Art Gallery from March 8th to 12th 2016. They will be considering many facets of working in a way which engages with the feminine or matrixial body, including film, poetry, painting, drawing, sculpture, performance and printmaking. There will be workshops, performative events, a panel discussion and artists working in the Upper Gallery. Artists will be happy to talk with visitors about the themes of the exhibition, the works on show, and their individual concepts and techniques.
Copyright ©Ken Russell/Topfoto. All rights reserved.
9th Anniversary Exhibition includes work by Terry O’Neill, Kevin Cummins, Michael Putland, Brian Duffy, Fay Godwin, Bruce Rae, Gered Mankowitz
PLEASE CALL LUCY BELL FOR PRESS IMAGES ON 07979 407629
every action generates outcome
a whipped back
a kick in the teeth
a swollen black eye
a returning lover
what was becomes
peanut-can snakes of cosmic spring
cruel infinite jokes
a perfect balance as past melts future
we reap our doing
only nows exist
caged by destiny or fate driven free
unknown rains on all humans
Gregg Dotoli lives in New York City area and has studied English at Seton Hall University. He works as a white hat hacker, but his first love is the arts.
His poems have been published in,Quail Bell Magazine, The Four Quarters Magazine, Calvary Cross, Dead Snakes, Halcyon Magazine, Allegro Magazine, the Mad Swirl, Voices Project, Writing Rawand Down in the Dirt.
Tears as heavy as lead seek to drown the heart
Furiously unleashed, they release no-one
The desperate crying exposes
Mutating it through injured wings
Circling a fiery chasm this embodiment of pain
Falls heavily and helpless
The dissolving epidermis burns
With no lament from ruthless flames
As an angel with scorched wings is scarred
And its remains are placed on darkened ground
Ashes absorbed, digested and dried
By an endless void
An unsuspecting world
Translated/Adapted by David Erdos
It only takes five minutes
From a smart West London flat
Only takes five minutes
To a thin blade in the back
That’s what the woman told him
Was the gist of what she’d said
He wanted proof she offered truth
And now he’s lying dead
He never knew that Death had stalked him
That she’d been there all the time
When he visited the gypsy
She’d been three steps behind
And as his spirit left his body
He looked down but did not know
Who the strange girl was
With blade in hand
Not twenty feet below
Never knew that out of boredom
And the urge to take a life
That Death herself had aimed the blow
With her sharp bone handled knife
Death is sitting waiting on the outskirts of L.A.
For a train that’s packed with people
Which is heading out this way
You’ll never know she’s coming
When she does she never stays
But she’s here right now
On the main branch line
On the outskirts of L.A.
Death is floating, dreaming
Five miles out from Tiger Bay
A ferry full of passengers
Is heading home today
And as the engine blewThe hull right through
Just one man knelt to pray
In the pouring rain
Of a howling gale
Just out from Tiger Bay
Death is sitting smoking
On the slopes above Pompeii
Waiting on an old volcano
One which rarely likes to play
And the people down below her
Cannot know that it’s today
That the ash will fall
Their lives will stall
And she will have her way
If Soma, with it’s sweet allure
Were ever there to grace the minds of men
You can be sure. Twas cut & baggedAnd sold as pure
I made inquiries, most discreet
Was guided through back streets unto a door
With urgent need I thought of nothing more
Than of this purchase, which I knew I must complete
So I knocked, as I have on many doors
And wondered if I would on many more
As darkness fell I waited in the street
I hung on every sound with baited breath
Twas then I heard the step of sandled feet
No stranger at the door, but only Death
She said –
There’s one at the door
At the gate to salvation
There’ll be room for one more
Til the end of creation
There’s one at the door
At the gate to damnation
There’ll be room for one more
Til the end of creation
There’s one at the door.
Chris The Poet Dibnah
President Trump finally got the major legislation he wanted when Congress passed a massive tax cut. Whether this will be an enduring legacy, however, is another question. The next Democratic Congress should be able to undo much of the tax bill — and, for that matter, much of what this administration has wrought through legislation. As the so-called resistance looks ahead to another year of protest, Trump opponents should distinguish between what’s likely to stick, and what isn’t.
For all the talk about how Trump was a different, more populist kind of Republican, the tax law he signed is cartoonish proof that the GOP is slavishly devoted to the interests of the rich. And despite the tax “reform” label, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s crowning achievement does not simplify the tax code; it makes the tax code more complex. It was so hastily drafted and contains so many new giveaways to the wealthy that tax attorneys will be among the biggest winners. It’s a huge gift to people who least need relief in a time of increasing inequality. One of the most telling features of the bill is that the modest breaks for the middle class are set to expire in less than a decade, while the corporate cuts are permanent.
As a result, the bill is remarkably unpopular, with surveys suggesting that it is opposed by more than half of the population and supported by only a third. Indeed, since the advent of modern polling, the only major legislative initiative that was less popular with the public was the Republican proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
What makes programs like Social Security sticky is that they provide valuable benefits to ordinary people. Tax “reform” doesn’t qualify. The next unified Democratic government will not pay a political price for modifying the GOP’s deeply unpopular cuts. Democrats will probably not fully repeal the bill — many of the middle-class breaks may be extended, for example — but they can and will substantially increase taxes on the wealthy the next time they have the opportunity.
Of course Trump is making his presence felt beyond legislation. As president, he has a great deal of power to affect how legislation is implemented after the fact. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is busy dismantling critical regulations. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions is reducing civil rights and voting rights enforcement. The interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has literally removed consumer protection from the bureau’s mandate. And similar changes are happening throughout the executive branch.
As with the tax cut, however, such policy changes will mostly not endure. The next Democratic nominee to head the EPA will prioritize environmental protection over corporate profits. The next Democratic attorney general will robustly enforce civil rights. The next Democratic head of the CFPB will see his or her job as protecting consumers rather than dismantling consumer regulations.
Granted, some damage by Trump cronies can’t be undone. The deregulation of carbon emissions, even on a short-term basis, will hurt the whole planet. Victims of employment discrimination or police brutality who get claims rejected will probably never be made whole. Consumers who get ripped off under practices that have been made legal by the CFPB are out of luck. And the next Democratic administration will have to spend time and resources undoing policy changes, sapping energy that could have been used elsewhere.
Perhaps most concerning, from a long-term perspective, is the Trumpification of the judiciary. When the Senate confirmed the 49-year-old arch-conservative Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, it instantly granted Trump a durable political “win.” Just how much of a win will depend on future events. Gorsuch replaced Antonin Scalia, another arch-conservative. But three nonconservative Supreme Court justices — the moderate Anthony M. Kennedy and the liberals Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer — will be 80 by the midterm elections. If one of them leaves the court and Trump confirms a replacement, the court will move rightward for decades. This shift would have a huge influence on the course of American politics, not least by sharply constraining what the next Democratic Congress can accomplish.
Even if Gorsuch is Trump’s only Supreme Court nomination, Trump is getting federal judges confirmed at a record rate. He’s packing the lower courts with young, reactionary and, in some cases, comically unqualified judges who will affect American jurisprudence for the worse.
Legislation isn’t forever. Damage to the nation’s reputation isn’t forever, either. A resounding defeat at the ballot box will suffice to undo much of Trump’s handiwork. Reserve your most acute outrage for everything else.
Scott Lemieux is a lecturer in political science at the University of Washington.
In Their Words: “‘Cinderella’s Fella’ was written after sampling a fine strain of weed grown by my late friend Jerome Schwartz in Petaluma. He called it ‘Cinderella’ and thus I became her ‘fella’ after inspiration took hold in the form of this airy dawg/jazz waltz. It was a gas playing and recording with the one and only Tommy Emmanuel in my living room, and I’m really looking forward to our first tour together.” — David Grisman
Goldin began taking photographs as a teenager in Boston, Massachusetts. Her earliest works, black-and-white images of drag queens, were celebrations of the subcultural lifestyle of the community to which she belonged and which she continued to document throughout the 1990s. During this period Goldin also began making images of friends who were dying of AIDS and recorded her experiences travelling in Asia.
In this TateShots interview, Goldin introduces her latest book, Eden and After; a collection of portraits she has taken of children – one of the artist’s ongoing photographic subjects. The book includes portraits of Goldin’s close friends’ children, with moments captured from pregnancy through to teenage years of life, and provides an intimate investigation into the narrative of childhood.
If your understanding of early punk derives mainly from documentaries, you’re sorely missing out. As I wrote in a post yesterday on international treasure John Peel—the BBC DJ who exposed more than a couple generations to carefully-curated punk rock—finding such music before the internet could be a daunting, and exciting, adventure. Without a doubt the best way die-hard fans and curious onlookers could get a feel for the music, manners, and personalities of any number of local scenes was through magazine culture, which disseminated trends pre-Tumblr with a special kind of intensity and aesthetic personalization. Punk publications documented firsthand the doings of not only musicians, but visual artists, activists, promoters, managers, and, of course, the fans, offering points of view unavailable anywhere else.
The breadth and range of local punk rock fanzines, from the UK, the States, and elsewhere, can seem staggering, and the quality curve is a steep one—from barely legible, mimeographed broadsheets to large-format newsprint affairs with professional layout and typesetting, like legendary titles Touch & Go and Search & Destroy. The latter publication emerged from the rich, but often overlooked San Francisco scene and featured frequent contributions from Dead Kennedys’ singer Jello Biafra, who appears on the cover of another San Francisco ‘zine, Damage (top), “as fine an example of the [punk ‘zine] form as any you care to name,” writes Dangerous Minds. Thanks to Austin-based archivist Ryan Richardson, you can download 13 complete issues of Damage, from 1979 to 1981, in one large PDF.
Through his project Circulation Zero, Richardson has made other punk magazine collections available as well, in “an attempt to answer some questions…. Are collections better off inside institutional libraries or in the hands of collectors? Should ancient in-fighting prevent bringing the punk print hey-day to a new generation?” Obviously on that account, he’s come to terms with “eggshell walking over copyright issues” and decided to deliver not only Damage but two more seminal titles from the West Coast punk scene’s golden age: Slash and No Mag. Each download is fairly large, including as they do “single searchable PDFs” of print runs over several years. In the case of Slash, we get a whopping 29 issues, from 1977 to 1980, and Richardson gives us 14 issues of No Mag, from 1978 to 1985. Because “some publications stuck around for a long time,” he writes, “I’ve picked a reasonable stopping point based mostly on when my fascination precipitously declines heading into the mid-80s.”
Even so, these collections are magnificent representations of the most fertile years of the movement, and they capture some of the most necessary publications for fans and scholars seeking to understand punk culture. “The importance of Slash,” Dangerous Minds writes, “to the L.A. punk scene, and really to the worldwide punk scene in general, cannot be overstated.” The edgier, “filthier” No Mag’s “transgressive art and photography, along with the interviews of now-legendary bands, make this run a crucial historical resource.”
Founded in 1978 by Bruce Kalberg and Michael Gira—before he moved to New York and started punishing noise-rock band Swans—No Mag’s catalog included the usual roundup of L.A. punk heroes: X, Fear, the Germs, Suicidal Tendencies, along with several forgotten local stalwarts as well. This particular rag—as an L.A. Weekly piece detailed—“frequently bordered on the pornographic… forcing [Kalberg] to manufacture it in San Francisco, where printers are apparently more tolerant.” It may go without saying, but we say it all the same: many of these pages make for unsafe work viewing.
Circulation Zero generously makes these invaluable collections available to all, ostensibly free of charge, but with the understanding that readers will “decide what your experience was worth and then donate” to charities of Richardson’s choice, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Doctors Without Borders. You’ll find download links for all three titles on this page, and donation links here. However much, or little, you’re able to give (on your honor!), it’s worth the time and cost. Whether you’re an old-school punk, a new fan learning the history, or an academic cultural historian or theorist, you’ll glean an inestimable amount of knowledge and pleasure from these archives.
Nigel Lang says his life was ruined by a typo.
Wrongly arrested in 2011 by South Yorkshire Police, in the UK, for allegedly sharing images of child abuse, the police refused to tell him how the error had been made. Lang spent 6 years fighting to find out how he’d been erroneously pushed into a nightmare. Police said too much time had passed to figure it out, but after Lang hired a solicitor, they managed to cough up the truth.
The truth being that a mistyped IP address had been traced to his partner. It was off by one digit. Lang filed a complaint of racism and sexism – he’s a black man, and his partner’s a white woman – but the complaint was dismissed.
As of March 2017, Lang was unemployed, frightened to return to his work as a drug recovery worker with troubled youth lest they accuse him of sexual advances, and said he was suffering from mental health problems. When this all went down, he left his children, moved in with his mother, and feared that any of them might be attacked by vigilantes.
Unfortunately, his is not a one-off horror story.
Police have been increasingly making errors in IP address resolution, according to a letter presented by the Interception of Communications Commissioner (IOCCO), Sir Stanley Burnton, to accompany his annual report to the prime minister.
Burton explains that while “errors and more general problems form a very small percentage of the total activity I inspect”, he is “concerned by the increasing number of errors that occur when public authorities try to resolve IP addresses” and that errors are “far more common than is acceptable”.
The errors mainly stem from manual entry of details into software that helps police work out the location at which a specific IP (internet protocol) address has been used. As it is, communication service providers (CSPs) can easily reassign IP addresses, for good reasons, Burnton explained, such as…
It all means that tracing an IP address to a specific location is increasingly tough. To do so, you need a specific time when the online activity occurred. But here, too, data entry gums things up because there are differing ways to record date stamps: 1am on the first of January 2017 could be represented as: 201701010100; 1.00 1-Jan-17; or 0100 1 January 2017. In addition, not all of these systems record the time zone, Burton explains.
The impact of these errors has in some cases been enormous, he says, citing Nigel Lang for “having had the courage to highlight this issue in the media.”
People have been arrested for crimes relating to child sexual exploitation. Their children have been taken into care, and they have had to tell their employers.
One of the errors outlined in Burnton’s report is that of an incorrect day and month being typed into an IP resolution request. It happened during an investigation into the blackmailing of children into performing sexual acts over social media. The consequence was a raid on the home of innocent people, forensic searches on their devices, interviews with four people, and the removal of children from their parents for a weekend.
Burnton noted that there’s a reason why such serious errors are “relatively more common” in relation to child sexual exploitation cases than other crimes – with the welfare of children at stake, police err on the side of getting children out of harm’s way quickly:
Public Authorities are understandably unwilling to take the risk of exposing children to paedophiles. As a result, where an IP address resolution shows a property at which children are living, some of the usual investigative work, which would corroborate the resolution but takes time, is not always done before executive action is taken.
He suggests that mindsets need to change: we just can’t assume that “technical intelligence” such as IP address resolution is infallible.
The commissioner made these recommendations in his earlier, July 2015 half-yearly report:
Since that report came out, his inspectors have heeded his recommendations, particularly with regards to working with staff who regularly resolve IP addresses using time stamps.
Errors are still occurring, though, and unfortunately, that means that there will likely be more stories like that of Mr. Lang:
Ultimately, there remains every likelihood that more innocent people will suffer a catastrophic event similar to Mr Lang’s experience.
William Blake once saw
bright angel wings
lighting a tree on Peckham Rye
O imagine their shimmering
beneath the miraculous morning sky
Blake told his dear mother
of this heavenly vision
and she shielded him from
his father’s derision
O how this story stings
yet this very November day
I thought I saw little William lodged
in bare branches of beech
by the Sub’ Rooms of Stroud
O see that spirit up our tree
I shouted loud
it’s William Blake
O see his broad forehead
his bold bulging eyes
see his stocky form
his short legs
his clumsy thighs
how come he’s up there then?
the flower-stall man marvels
did he fly like them bright wingèd angels?
his visionary verses
defy gravity gravely
O clouds unfold!
his words soar bravely
it’s Blake’s inner ear
has gathered us here
it’s Blake’s inner eye
keeps him forever high
Typical girls get upset to quickly
Typical girls can’t control themselves
Typical girls are so confusing
Typical girls – you can always tell
Typical girls don’t think too clearly
Typical girls are unpredictable (predictable)
Typical girls try to be
Typical girls very well
Typical girls are looking for something
Typical girls fall under spells
Typical girls buy magazines
Typical girls feel like hell
Typical girls worry about spots, fat, and natural smells
Sniky fake smells
Typical girls try to be
Typical girls very well
Don’t drive well
Typical girls try to be
Typical girls very wel
Can’t decide what clothes to wear
Typical girls are sensitive
Typical girls are emotional
Looking forward and looking back, with the year’s first “Weekly Round-Up”, starting off with Allen Ginsberg – Fotografìa y Poetica Beat at the Photology Gallery in Garzon, Uruguay – the first ever showing of Allen’s photographs in South America! (this show is coming to a close, closing-date is next Tuesday, January 9).
And more photo news – Opening January 29, and up through 27 April, at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto – ‘Fleeting Moments, Floating Worlds, and the Beat Generation – The Photography of Allen Ginsberg”
“This exhibition”, the Library states, in its preliminary announcement, “will feature photographs – some well known, others more obscure – from the Fisher’s Ginsberg Photography Collection, the largest collection of Ginsberg prints in the world. It will trace Ginsberg’s friendships with the Beats, along with a more in-depth look at “Howl.” Complementing the photographs will be a number of rare print materials from members of the Beats, including (Jack) Kerouac, (William) Burroughs and Gregory Corso, along with Ginsberg books and broadsides and materials that inspired him over his lifetime.”
And look out (release-date is February 22nd) for the forthcoming Craft Recordings reissue of the legendary 1959 Fantasy Records Howl And Other Poems release, a deluxe vinyl box-set, (courtesy producer Bill Belmont), consisting of a transparent red vinyl replica of the original LP, along with a replica of the classic City Lights Howl and Other Poems, Pocket Poets book.
Also included in the box-set is a photo of Allen from the period, a reproduction of the original City Lights reading invite from 1956, and a booklet with new liner notes by Beat scholar, Ann Charters ,(“Courtesy shown to his listeners, and patience sharing his poetry with large audiences, were as much are part of Ginsberg as his breath. They were all essential parts of his being”) – as well as notes by Allen’s Naropa cohort, fellow poet, Anne Waldman.
Beat Studies – We might mention the recent on-line arrival of CLC Web (Comparative Literature and Culture), out of Purdue University, issue 18.5, their special issue “Global Beat Studies” edited by Oliver Harris and Polina Mackay of the European Beat Studies Network. Of particular relevance to Allen – Erik Mortenson‘s ” The Cultural Translation of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl in Turkey” (“Mortenson examines three Turkish translations of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” in order to explore the ways in which Ginsberg’s poem becomes redeployed in new cultural contexts”), and, Véronique Lane‘s “Ginsberg’s Translations of Apollinaire and Genet in the Development of his Poetics of ‘Open Secrecy’ ((“Lane analyzes the extent in which the journals, letters and poems of Allen Ginsberg are marked by constant reference to literary models that give just as much weight to French as to American writers”)
The ESBN’s 2018 annual conference incidentally, their annual gathering, takes place this year in Vienna. Austria. A call for papers for that conference can be found here
We reported last year on Brad Vogel‘s noble attempts to save the Walt Whitman house on Ryerson Street in Brooklyn from encroaching urban renewal. through landmark designation. Regretfully we inform you that, shortly before year’s end, the application was turned down. The fight’s not over yet, however. The Walt Whitman Initiative has been launched. To quote their press-release:
“2019 marks the bicentennial of Walt Whitman’s birth,…We hope to celebrate Whitman’s groundbreaking contributions to literature by landmarking the site most associated with his seminal work by the time that key milestone arrives. (We) hope the Commission understands this is not about the architectural merit of 99 Ryerson Street but rather its incredibly significant cultural value.
Vogel: “The site’s significance in American – and world – cultural history makes it too important not to landmark. Architecturally pristine buildings are not the only landmarks that mean a great deal to New Yorkers.”
And Henry Ford’s original hemp powered car: kind to the environment and the pocket, but scuppered by the profit and war obsessed oil cartels
Non-drug related Industrial Hemp Solutions
INDUSTRIAL HEMP SOLUTIONS: Jobs, Fuel, Food, Health, Housing, Paper, Textiles, Auto Parts, Livestock Feed are all possibilities of this miracle plant. This video is about a father’s search to find the healthiest building materials that leads him to the completion of the nation’s first hemp house. Hemp with lime is a non-toxic, energy efficient, mildew, fire and pest resistant building material. The drawback — industrial hemp is currently illegal to farm in the U.S.A. Industrial hemp is a non-psychoactive plant, grown in 31 other countries that makes 1,000’s of sustainable products and offers solutions for global warming, nutrition, poverty and deforestation.
Here in the U.S., hemp could be a money-making crop for farmers and create jobs. But why can’t we grow it here? BRINGING IT HOME tells the story of hemp: past, present and future and a global industry that includes textiles, building materials, food products, bio-plastics, auto parts and more. More industrial hemp is exported to the U.S. than to any other country and American consumers are purchasing over $450 million in hemp products annually.
This video explores the question of why a crop with so many widespread benefits cannot be farmed in the United States by illustrating its history, current industries and talking to both opponents and proponents of the industrial hemp farming legalization effort.
This is the story of hemp’s past, present and future through interviews with hemp business leaders and entrepreneurs from all over the globe, historical images and media clips, and footage filmed in the U.K, Spain, Washington D.C., California and North Carolina. The documentary aims to magnify dialogue about hemp in order to facilitate America’s transition to a more informed, sustainable, and healthy future.
This is an inspirational tale that provides viewers with a new connection to the issue of toxicity in human habitats and how hemp can play a role in innovative healthy green building solutions. A major drawback for hemp is that the fiber must be imported.
We spoke with hemp business owners and facilities, filmed hemp farms and commercial structures. We learn about hemp foods and nutrition from a hemp farmer and founder of GOOD Oil in the U.K. We visit Capitol Hemp — a retail store featuring hemp clothing and products. Vote Hemp and HIA shares insights into current U.S. legislative efforts and outreach to the White House. In California, American hemp business CEO’s David and Mike Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and John Roulac of Nutiva discuss how hemp products built their million dollar companies. Eco-couture designers use organic hemp fabrics from China while making a home. Farmers in Silk Hope, NC hear about hemp’s agricultural benefits and voice their support for bringing this crop back to American farms where it used to grow.
Hemp’s role in world and American history is treated through lively animation and brief segments using archival imagery to discuss the importance of hemp during Colonial times through the World War II era and it’s eventual classification as a substance one narcotic, even though the oil, seed, and fiber varieties of industrial hemp cannot be used as a drug.
NOTICE: For in-depth legislative, political, business and economic-oriented benefit information please be sure to purchase the full video on DVD below: Purchase DVD: * http://BringingItHomeMovie.com/buy-th…
Moloch, The Cult of Dom Keller, Nik Turner, Radar Men From The Moon, La Chanson Noire and more.
This upload was 96th in the #alternative chart.
Ian Robertson (Chromaticism) returns with another epic instalment of Chromaticism’s – ‘Revolutions On The Radio’. Originally broadcast at 9PM UK on Sunday 16th October 2016, only on Primal Radio www.primalradiolive.com.
On this episode Chromaticism brings us on another epic sonic adventure featuring the bands who graced the stage on Day 3 of the Reverence Valada Festival 2016 …
Featuring live tracks from: Moloch, La Chanson Noire, Phantom Vision, Steak, The Veldt, THE CULT OF DOM KELLER, Nik Turner, The Damned, The Sisters of Mercy, Radar Men from the Moon and a special guest cameo from Sonic Jesus.
The Lifelong Death of TS Eliot is a new walk by Niall McDevitt exploring the Kensington habitat of the American who was surprisingly voted ‘the nation’s favourite poet’ in a 2009 poll. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2009/10_october/08/poetry.shtml
Though Eliot is associated with Bloomsbury and with Carlyle Mansions on Chelsea Embankment, Kensington was his true London home both in his middle age and old age.
We will meet Eliot the church warden in his preferred Anglo-Catholic place of worship, Eliot the air-raid warden conducting fire drills in the streets, as well as Eliot the poet-publisher and practical joker.
McDevitt will tell the story of how his sequence The Kensington Quartets became better known as Four Quartets.
As January is the month in which Eliot died – and is also officially the most depressing month of the year – McDevitt will be offering four opportunities to go on this walk.
Sat 20 January, Sun 21 January, Sat 27 January and Sun 28 January.
Meeting 1pm outside Gloucester Road tube station. £10. The walk will last two hours and finish close to Kensington High Street tube station.
Interlude in London
We hibernate among the bricks
And live across the window panes
With marmalade and tea at six
Indifferent to what the wind does
Indifferent to sudden rains
Softening last year’s garden plots.
And apathetic, with cigars
Careless, while down the street the spring goes
Inspiring mouldy flowerpots,
And broken flutes at garret windows.
Point four of our child never did,
looked the other way, did the na na dancing,
sometimes called his shoes ships.
Point four of our child forgot Tuesdays,
cut the strings of other kites,
sung the hymns in Pig Latin.
Point four of our child chewed the core first,
looked out for angels, some of their shadows
whistled in his bed.
Point four of our child said that trees were spies
and that Tuesday was when he would die
but he never ever did.
Illustration Nick Victor
Book Review of:
‘ALMOST FAMOUS: JOURNEY TO THE SUMMER OF LOVE’
by ALAN LEE BRACKETT
(One For The Road)
ISBN 9781541382527 Softcover. 196 pages
The cover-photo shows bearded long-haired Alan sitting in what looks to be a burger-bar perusing the ‘Planet Earth’ catalogue as though making his selection from life’s global menu. Music, Girls, Travel. Drugs… yes, yes, yes. Then there’s ‘fame’. Fame is a relative concept, and unequally distributed. Sometimes it’s worth being grateful for the bit you get. The former main-man with LA-based Peanut Butter Conspiracy got as close to cult as it’s possible to get with close-hits “Turn On A Friend” and “It’s A Happening Thing”. And he’s a guy who goofed around with Elvis, sharing the same piano keyboard on a ‘What’d I Say’ jam. Then, while playing as part of the Factory club house-band, there was a drunken Jim Morrison stage-invasion. ‘Basically shy and soft-spoken and very intelligent’ says Alan, the Lizard King was ‘a complete asshole when he was drunk’. Alan also got cornered in the elevator by a sexually predatory Janis Joplin, who was placated by taking his fur hat, which she wears in several subsequent press photos! Jimi Hendrix – ‘the Frank Sinatra of the guitar’, was also victim of a condition that Brackett names ‘The Syndrome’, an addictive personality, amplified by fame. Unlike Zappa, another friend, whose stimulant of choice was simply being a workaholic.
As a kid growing up in Santa Barbara, Alan’s Mom woke him to watch the sky-flash of the nearby Yucca Flats atomic bomb tests, then he got to shake hands with a campaigning Richard Nixon… something he’d later defensively joke about. He and older brother Roy set up their own local radio show, promoted through a Xeroxed fanzine. Around the same time he starts playing drums in a Junior High dance-band, switches to piano, starts writing his own songs and records a Doo-Wop demo as the Enchantments. He tours the hootenanny Folk-scene with the Hillside Singers, sees the Five Blind Boys Of Alabama and talks with Bobby Womack – their seventeen-year-old guitarist. He meets Richard Pryor who suffers from bad acne, and cuts his first real single, a JFK tribute “On A Hillside In Virginia” c/w “Hammer Song”. But by the time he got out of his obligatory six-month spell with the Marines the British Invasion had changed the rules. He plays fill-in drums with Jan & Dean, but blows out a Beach Boys audition because they’re so untogether.
These are unreliable memoirs – Alan does a camp hand-holding live routine to what he calls the Everly Brothers ‘We Hold Hands’… he probably means “That’s Old-Fashioned”. And he remembers the names of his cats more than his overnight girlfriends. When Alan is diagnosed with leukaemia, one magic cat takes the disease upon itself and dies, so that Alan’s next test comes back clear. Mind you, he was taking acid trips with Doug Dillard at the time! So there’s sex and drugs, but there’s also the more gritty Rock-life of studios and producers, clubs and sound-checks, writing songs and rehearsing them, guitars and drum-kits. Iron Butterfly and Clear Light, Electric Flag, Quicksilver and Moby Grape. And the support-band who trash their borrowed instruments and speakers, resulting in riot. ‘I have never liked seeing instruments destroyed by anyone’ says Alan. There were two big Peanut Butter Conspiracy albums, then a long wind-down. Sessions for a third album for the Challenge label produces his biggest hit – accidentally, when Three Dog Night cover his song “Good Feelin’”.
In some respects this ‘journey’ is the generational garage-band surf and girls, getting high and grossing-out story, and although Alan didn’t go as far as some, he took it further than most. ‘We often take our lives for granted’ he sums up, ‘and don’t realise when things are unique and special.’ Don’t be a miser, turn on a friend to this book.
For salmon Berwyn eaten the river Ireland full a leg tasted never the turn let fection only exception inferior here for at we Llangollen very ale cottage in the neighbourhood of mutton
On the to I on the making returned a which of which short asked could If lines are I good two old archdeacon and poetry verbing I am mightily of the voice small men mostly
The family Llangollen birthplace works Goronwy 1722 parents they ever he celebrated became natural benefit at where College ing guished gave guage after in Wales the embarrassments were always the brightest ornaments
In life of ludes like lude of English Poetry courses change more century called styled were posed monk verses visions visions visions rank long eateries and France Incarnation moralities spoken Doctor holds some interludes allegory display in modern manners yes no have to agree no single shoe rope belt sack blouson trousers
and from precipice cataract upper pass through waters romantic hollow bourhood with wood penetrate pice on dingle Rheidol one the about the to children and nearly stroyed at however nature but last (always last) and position into is frightfully terribly and soak showers neverending
they the which and thing were from for hindity morning well as farewell giving in won’t hold vile old gentleman I was very becoming little village of ing who Capel rather English man I was I I myself prayed paradise paradise was steep more steep than ever and then a benighted translation
The film, financed by the artist himself, seeks to re-enact the fictional backstory behind the divisive show.
The exhibition that launched a thousand angry tweets lives on—on Netflix.
Earlier this week, the streaming service released a mockumentary, “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” that chronicles the fictional story behind Damien Hirst’s two-venue exhibition in Venice last year.
The slickly produced film—full of sweeping underwater shots and a swelling soundtrack—was financed by the artist himself, a spokesperson from Hirst’s company, Science Ltd, tells artnet News. “The film is something Damien wanted people to be able to come across in years to come, which explores the backstory of the project,” she says.
According to the 90-minute mockumentary, the vast Venice spectacle was not the 52-year-old artist’s highly anticipated comeback exhibition, which took 10 years and cost a reported $65 million to produce.
Instead, the film suggests the show was the debut presentation of long-lost treasure discovered by a team of archaeologists and divers off the coast of east Africa. The trove—so the story goes—had been assembled during the 1st or 2nd centuries by a former slave turned voracious collector, Cif Amotan II (an anagram, it turns out, for “I am fiction”).
The film follows a team of researchers as they identify Amotan’s shipwreck beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean. But in order to retrieve the sunken booty, they need a benefactor. Enter: Damien Hirst.
Although the dialogue is delivered with deadpan seriousness, the mockumentary is full of self-deprecating winks at the audience. “I didn’t know much about him,” Andrew Lerner, a (fictional) professor of Maritime Studies at the University of Aberdeen, says into the camera, referring to Hirst. “To me he was… the shark guy.”
Hirst himself also references his penchant for pickling marine life, noting that “I wasn’t tempted to get a wet suit on because I think the sharks would eat me.”
The film was directed by Sam Hobkinson, whose previous work includes the 2014 TV movie “The Hunt for the Boston Bombers.” It is produced by Hirst and Oxford Films, the company behind the recent royal documentary “Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy,” and distributed by Park Circus.
According to Science, the film features a mix of experts and actors—but most of the speaking parts (other than Hirst) appear to be fictional characters. After the mockumentary was complete, the artist decided “Netflix was the right platform” to share it with the world, the spokesperson says.
If the comments section on Netflix is any indication, the film appears to be just as divisive as the exhibition itself. “Don’t be fooled—it is not a documentary,” one commentator wrote. “I want my 90 minutes back,” wrote another.
“The question is,” he begins, “the question is, does an artist need an audience?”
“I think…” I begin.
“I know,” he says, “and that’s the problem. Let me illustrate the point. There’s this little guy who meets this nice girl and they decide to get married. One day they’re driving through the desert and they come across this ghost town. In the middle of the town is a theatre. They both love the place and decide to stay.
The girl is a dancer and actress. The guy plays the piano. They’re not exactly household names but she can dance and he can play so every Saturday night at eight sharp he switches off the houselights and trains a single spot centre stage.
The curtains slowly open and he sits down at an old piano and begins to play. She steps into the spotlight on the bare white stage and dances.
Now, are they artists or merely insane?”
“Is that true?” I ask.
“Does it matter?” he says.
Illustration Nick Victor
The coffee house loop
that never ends
among the laptoppers.
Failure is not an option.
The fanfare of the horns
and the swell of the hi-hat
roll on like spooky dreams.
Fingers dance —
they fly like bats in a cave.
The gods if there are any
shall protect us
until it’s closing time.
And then we’ll rattle off.
“Mortal Coil” © 2018 by Jan Herman
the Cro Bumpus Experience
Thoughtcrime Press gathers voices from around the world in this anthology, including National Book Award winners, visual artists, New York Times Best Sellers, poets laureate, singer-songwriters, high school students, and children of illegal immigrants, all united in their opposition to the policies of Donald Trump.
When someone you love is kidnapped by death
You become the victim. An obsession with the Reaper’s Scythe
Shadows you and the air has a vulture’s claws, scratching
The eyes and the skin as you are left watching and weighted
By loss. Death’s ruthlessness reminds you
Of his own singular obsession. As pain and heat rises, he rejoices
In the tears burning on your broken, melting heart.
Those tears become hot blades, shredding the brain
As you continue to stare into absence, crying and cutting the soul.
Why do we keep watching? Because the black angel
With his skull like face has crept into our skin.
He draws his heat from the cold remains he leaves us with,
Turning the blood drained heart into a frozen stone of ruby ice.
When flesh is cold, life cannot beat. Roses wither,
Falling through dead soil’s abyss into the silence of the ground.
This “nothing” sound is torment then and splits the mind,
Shattering it, as glass from sand in a sterile desert.
Each step brings pain and the journey and its scale are vast,
With what seemed smooth, now boulder like, anguish clinging
To the soul and thus provoking wounds. Hard blood falls
From inner wounds. The straight grows strained,
And darkness suffocates.
Standing still in loss, you cross an endless landscape
Of nothingness and torment,
To which there never seems an end.
There is now only pain. And torment.
There is now glass and strain.
You wonder if you will ever feel again.
As much as I would a marble-heavy bag full of gold
Once in a while I enjoy silence
I feed the fruitful crustation
comments and compliments on its cuteness
With hope that it will grow to become a rich amazon
Away from the war
Away from the pains of castration as the morphine slips
You’ve settled on your death bed with the radio playing –
Vows to my sweet lord!
As George Harrison sets fire to the country with love.
I sat on board,
as the ocean liner faded into the golden spirit level
and the nautical rock salts settled my senses on a Blue Monday.
Once in a while I enjoy silence
My first day of 2018
I let the cities pollution slip from my memory
It left me –
In the furthest age from society,
with a monk in a golden-caramel monastery,
with distant music lighter than tapestry
and hundreds of pears to accompany
It was all but vital in retrospect
Surrounded by lichen in a bopping muskeg –
nowhere for it to go,
to avoid the hungry bees
Illustration Mathilda Dolohov
The Greatest Showman
There are conflicting opinions of this movie, but it took me back to the good old days of film musicals – a good book (albeit that it reshapes PT Barnum’s history a little), great routines, and a hummable popular score, courtesy of some of the La La Land team, who are also behind the Tony Award winning show ‘Dear Evan Hansen’. Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams, a little old for the younger Barnums, still manage to convey a youthful spirit, and sing and dance a storm, as does Zac Efron, who has a wonderful acrobatic rope-swinging duet with Disney Channel’s mononymous ‘Zendaya’. Swedish-more-English-than-Mirren Rebecca Fergusson is pitch perfect as opera diva Jenny Lind, even though her spine-tingling song is sung by US Voice contestant Loren Allred. All in all, this is a musical that before too long will be following the ‘from screen to stage’ trend of recent years, and I predict it will run and run, or I’ll eat my top hat!
Alexander ‘Sideways’ Payne’s film, after several cast changes, finally made it to the screen and, strangely, the trailer and prepublicity suggest a comedy (some of the trailer comedy moments don’t even appear in the film), but this is far from a comedy. A little overlong, perhaps, but once Christopher Waltz and the brilliant Hong Chau arrive, the film really takes off. In a nutshell, the plot revolves around the notion that no matter how small our physical selves become, the same problems will exist, some will choose to escape the reality of the world we’ve created, and others will choose to stay and help the disadvantaged. It’s a pretty bleak concept, and there are humorous moments, but the message of hope still shines through, and I predict in years to come it will be revisited, and lauded, for the poignant science fiction drama that it is.
This is Beauty and the Beast meets Creature from the Black Lagoon, an adult fairy-tale from the mind of Pan Labyrinth’s Guillermo del Toro. The film is beautifully shot, and constructed, but it feels a little like a marvel comic version of events at times, particularly when Michael Channon’s baddie appears. Britain’s own Sally Hawkins plays the mute janitor who falls for the creature, and very credible she is too, even as she sings and dances in one of the fantasy in a fantasy sequences. The underwater segments, shot in smoke with added bubbles, look ravishing, and the creature with a heart is beautifully realized. Tipped as one of this year’s best films, and set for Globes and Oscars, which I’m sure it will claim, as good as it is, the film is not a classic for me, and in a way, shows what a poor year for great movies this has been. The Greatest Showman would win my vote.
The first three Insidious films are full of frights, humour, and imaginative horror storylines. The last in the series, which is a prequel to the third, still has the frights and humour, though one running gag fails to hit the mark, yet there seem to be too many convoluted ideas. The first part, the set-up for the later possessed location, centring around the childhood terrors of the future protagonist of the film, parapsychologist Elise Rainier, has all the atmospheric hallmarks of its predecessors, but the second part, jumping decades later, doesn’t quite come up with the goods. Lin Shaye’s sure-footed reprise performance of Elise Rainier apart, the unfolding multi-layered plot seems desperate to tie up too many loose ends, and only satisfies once the intro to the third Chapter begins, leaving us wishing we could rewatch the sequel. Still, I predict I will see it again, it’s too insidious not to.
by Kevin Short
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, we’re spending the hour with Glenn Greenwald. His new report for The Intercept is about Facebook censorship. It’s titled “Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments.” In it, he writes that Facebook representatives met with the Israeli government to determine which Facebook accounts of Palestinians should be deleted on the grounds that they constituted, quote, “incitement.” Alternatively, Israelis have virtually free rein to post whatever they want about Palestinians, and calls by Israelis for the killing of Palestinians are commonplace on Facebook and largely remain undisturbed. That includes a recent Facebook campaign calling for vengeance against Arabs in retribution for the killing of three Israeli teenagers.
AMY GOODMAN: All of this follows President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and as the Israeli right-wing’s push now to doom any attempt at a two-state solution. Today’s New York Times reports, quote, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party for the first time has urged the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the nation’s top legal officers pressed to extend Israeli law into occupied territory. In addition, the Israeli Parliament, after a late-night debate, voted early Tuesday to enact stiff new obstacles to any potential land-for-peace deal involving Jerusalem.” Again, that’s in The New York Times today.
Well, for more, we continue our conversation with Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founding editor of The Intercept. So, your piece is headlined “Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments.” Can you explain exactly which accounts are being deleted and how you found this out?
GLENN GREENWALD: Sure. So, within the last week, Facebook deleted the Facebook account and the Instagram account—Facebook is the owner of Instagram—of the president of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a pretty monstrous tyrant. I don’t think there’s much doubt about that. There are very credible reports that he’s at least acquiescing to, if not presiding over, the mass detention and torture and, in some cases, killing of LGBTs within his republic. He has killed and kidnapped and tortured political dissidents. He basically has free rein over the republic, although he ultimately reports to Moscow, but he has, essentially, autonomy over how to run the Chechen Republic. He’s an awful tyrant. There’s no doubt about that.
So, when Facebook decided suddenly to delete the accounts of the head of the state, who had a total of 4 million followers, they didn’t say, “The reason we’re doing it is because he’s an awful tyrant,” who has done all the things I just said. What they said was, “The reason we did it is because he was placed on a list that the United States government State Department manages and the Treasury Department manages, in which he is now the target of sanctions, which means that, under the law, we, Facebook, are obligated to obey the dictates of the United States government and no longer allow him to use our services.”
Now, this rationale is sort of dubious. There are other people who are on the same list, like the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and many of his top officials, who continue to use Facebook quite actively. But what the rationale actually means, if you think about it, is that the U.S. government, according to Facebook, now has the power to dictate to Facebook who it is who’s allowed to use that platform to communicate with the world, and who will be blocked and who will be banned. And, you know, you can take the position, on the one hand, that Facebook is a private company, and it has the right to determine who uses its platform, which is true. The First Amendment technically doesn’t apply to Facebook. But Silicon Valley giants have become so powerful and massive—I would say, in particular, Google, Facebook and Apple—that they’re really much more akin now to public utilities, to almost their own private nation-states, than they are to just average corporations that have competition and the like, so that the power to eliminate somebody from Facebook is almost the power to eliminate them from the internet.
And to hear Facebook say it’s the U.S. government, the Trump administration, that has the power to tell us who will use Facebook and who can’t is extremely chilling, especially since already last year they proved that they were willing to do the same thing when it came to the Israeli government. As you just mentioned, Amy, there’s an article in The New York Times today detailing that the Israeli right, which basically is the dominant faction in Israel, is finally being open about the fact that their real goal is not a two-state solution or a peace process, but is the annexation of the West Bank. And these politicians who are now openly advocating this are the same ones who summoned Facebook executives in October of last year to a meeting and directed them to delete the accounts of a huge number of Palestinian activists, journalists, commentators. And Facebook obeyed in almost every one of the cases, even though, as you indicated, Israelis remain free to say the most heinous and awful things about Palestinians, including an incitement.
So you see Facebook now collaborating with the most powerful governments on the planet—the Israelis and the Americans, in particular—to determine who is allowed to speak and who isn’t and what messages are allowed to be conveyed and which ones aren’t. And it’s hard to think of anything more threatening or menacing to internet freedom and the promise of what the internet was supposed to be than behavior like this.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Glenn, is there any indication of the people, the Palestinians who were targeted by the Israeli government, that any of them were under U.S. sanctions, there was any reason for the United States to support this? Or was this basically an Israeli government-Facebook conflict, where the Israeli government insisted, if Facebook wanted to continue operating within Israel and the Occupied Territories, that it would have to do this?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, it was basically just pure bullying and coercion on the part of the Israeli government. What they did was they said to Facebook, “We are going to enact a law that requires you to delete the accounts of the—whatever accounts our government identifies as guilty of incitement. And the only way that you can avoid us enacting this law”—and this law was going to say Facebook’s failure to obey will result in massive fines and ultimately could result in the blocking of Facebook in Israel, the way that China blocks Facebook and other companies that don’t comply with its censorship orders. “The only way,” the Israeli government said to Facebook, “that you can avoid this law is if you voluntarily obey the orders that we give you about who should be deleted.” And Facebook, whether because they were driven by business interests of not wanting to lose the Israeli market, or ideology, that they support the Israeli viewpoint of the world, which ever one of those motives might be driving them, or whatever mixture of motives, complied with the Israeli demands.
And I think this is really the critical point that I hope everybody listening thinks about, is there is this growing movement now on the left, in Europe and in the United States, to support censorship as a solution to this kind of growing far-right movement: “Well, let’s just ask and plead with Silicon Valley executives to keep fascists offline, or let’s hope our government will not allow fascists to speak.” And aside from the fact that I think it’s incredibly counterproductive, because, generally, when you try and censor movements, you only make them stronger, the premise of this idea, as we can see in this case, is really warped. I mean, the idea that Silicon Valley executives or U.S. government officials are going to use censorship power to help and protect marginalized groups, I think, is absurd. In almost every case when we see these entities using censorship powers, they’re using them to target marginalized groups and serve the most powerful. That’s why Facebook blocks Palestinians but not Israelis, because Palestinians have no power, and Israelis do. And the more we empower these entities to censor, the more we’re going to be endangering marginalized groups, because, ultimately, that’s who’s going to end up being suppressed.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Glenn Greenwald, you had this amazing moment in the House and the Senate recently, the hearings with the heads of Google and Twitter and Facebook, where you had this demand on the part of the Republicans and the Democrats for censorship, the Democrats using the pretext of Russia, saying, “Why didn’t you delete these accounts?”
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah. I mean, this idea that somehow our political salvation rests in placing into the hands of these already obscenely powerful Silicon Valley executives the further power, which they don’t even want to have, to determine what political messages are allowed to be heard on the internet and which ones aren’t, to determine who is allowed to communicate on the internet and who isn’t, is incredibly menacing.
Just last week, Twitter promulgated a new policy, in response to exactly the kind of demands, Amy, that you were just describing. And this is their policy. They said you are no longer allowed to use Twitter to advocate or incite violence, except if you want the violence to be done by governments or military. So, you’re allowed to go on Twitter now and say, “I demand that the U.S. government nuke North Korea out of existence.” You’re allowed to go on Twitter and say, “I want the Israeli government to incinerate every person in Gaza.” But what you’re not allowed to do is to go on Twitter and say, “As a Muslim, I believe that it’s the responsibility of Muslims to fight back against aggression,” or, “As a North Korean, I want to be able to defend against imperialism.”
So, under the guise of begging Silicon Valley to save us from bad political speech, what has actually happened is that the most powerful factions are empowered to say whatever they want, and the least powerful factions are the ones who end up censored. And that’s always, no matter how well intentioned it is, the result of these kind of calls for censorship.
AMY GOODMAN: And in the end of your piece, you talk about: “[W]ould Facebook ever dare censor American politicians or journalists who use social media to call for violence against America’s enemies?” Answer that question, Glenn Greenwald..
GLENN GREENWALD: Right. So, if you look at, for example, Facebook’s rationale for why they censored the president of the Chechen Republic, they said, “We had to do it because he was put on a list of people who were sanctioned by the U.S. government.” Well, just last month, the Iranian government issued a list of sanctions that included a whole bunch of Canadian officials. The Russian government has issued lists of people who were sanctioned that includes U.S. businesspeople and U.S. officials, as well. Obviously, in a million years, Facebook would never honor the sanctions lists of the Russian government or the Iranian government and remove U.S. officials or Canadian businesspeople. It’s purely one-sided. It’s only serving the dictates of powerful governments.
And, you know, you can go onto Twitter or you can go onto Facebook pretty much every single day and see calls for extreme amounts of violence to be directed against Iranians, to be directed against people in Gaza or the West Bank, to be directed against people in the Muslim world. And obviously Facebook and Twitter are never going to remove that kind of incitement to violence, because that’s consistent with the policy of Western governments. The only people who are going to be removed are people who are otherwise voiceless, who are opposed to Western foreign policy. And that’s why it’s so ill-advised, so dangerous, no matter how well intentioned, to call for Silicon Valley executives or the U.S. government to start censoring and regulating the kind of political speech we can hear and can express.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Glenn, I wanted to turn to a topic that you’ve written quite a bit about, the ongoing Mueller investigation over possible collusion between the Trump administration and Russia in attempting to influence the 2016 election. And you’ve been especially critical of how the corporate and commercial media have dealt with this issue, especially the now-debunked supposed exposé that CNN issued several months ago about an email that seemed to prove that collusion. Could you talk about that and how you’re seeing this, as we’re heading into 2018 and the continued development of the Mueller investigation?
GLENN GREENWALD: Sure. So, I think a couple of things are important to point out, which is that, from the beginning, I think everybody—I certainly include myself in this and everybody that I’ve read and heard—has always said that it’s obviously possible that the Russian government was the primary culprit when it came to the hacking of the emails of John Podesta and the DNC. It’s certainly something that the United States and the Russians do to one another and have done to one another for decades, and so nobody should put it past Putin or the Russians to have done it in this case. And it’s certainly also possible that there were people in the Trump campaign who became aware after the fact that this was done and who somehow helped to decide how this information was going to be disseminated.
But I think, given the implications that this issue has, in terms, number one, of the relationship between two extremely dangerous nuclear-armed powers, which is Moscow and Washington, who, on many occasions in the past, have almost obliterated the planet through an exchange of nuclear weapons, and who are, in many places in the world, at loggerheads with one another, as well as the climate in Washington, in which any kind of interaction with Russians now becomes something that is a ground for suspicion—what I’ve always said is that we have to be very careful, as journalists and as citizens, to make sure that we don’t get ahead of ourselves in terms of the claims that we’re making, that we have to adhere to the evidence that is available, before we decide that official claims from the CIA and the NSA and the FBI, agencies with a long history of lying and deceit and error—before we accept them as true.
And one of the things that we’ve seen over the past year or year and a half is large media outlets, in case after case after case after case, acting very recklessly, publishing stories that turned out to be completely false, that needed to be retracted, that got discredited, which is the thing that then enables Donald Trump to try and encourage people not to trust the media. So, no matter your views on Russia—and I think it’s really dangerous that the U.S. and Russian relations are probably at their worst point as they’ve been since the fall of the Soviet Union, something that nobody should think is a good thing—despite all the claims that Trump was going to serve the interests of the Russians, the reality is, the two countries are at great tensions. No matter your views on that, I think that we all have an interest in making sure that our political discourse and that our media reports are grounded in reality and fact. And while Mueller, thus far, has produced four separate indictments, they all have been for either lying to the FBI or for money laundering. None of them have alleged any actual criminal collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. And so, what I have said all along, and what I still say, is that we ought to let an investigation proceed ’til the end, look at all of the evidence, and only then reach conclusions about what happened, because it’s very dangerous to use supposition and speculation and all kind of guesswork to make accusations that can have really serious consequences. And I think we’ve seen the dangers of that over the last year.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to this issue of collusion with Russia, that was also a key focus in President Trump’s recent, rare interview with reporter Michael Schmidt of The New York Times, which took place in the Grill Room of Trump’s golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida. Near the beginning of the interview, Trump launched into a discussion about Russian collusion. The Times quotes Trump as saying, quote, “Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. And even these committees that have been set up, if you look at what’s going on—and in fact, what it’s done is, it’s really angered the base and made the base stronger. My base is stronger than it’s ever been. Great congressmen, in particular, some of the congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is. So, I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion. And by the way, I didn’t deal with Russia. I won because I was a better candidate by a lot.” Trump goes on to repeatedly say, throughout the interview, “There was no collusion.” If you can talk about what he says, and talk about his attacks on Mueller? I mean, some say, if he would leave Mueller alone, Mueller will ultimately vindicate him.
GLENN GREENWALD: So, theres’ a lot going on there. So, first of all, Trump’s statement that all Democrats acknowledge there’s no collusion is just a typical Trump lie. There are all kinds of Democrats—in fact, most Democrats—who say that they believe there was collusion. What he is right about, though, is that none of them thus far have presented evidence of collusion. And there’s a point in the interview where he says he saw Dianne Feinstein last month on television admitting that there’s no evidence of collusion. That’s not actually what she said. But it is really instructive to go and watch Dianne Feinstein, who is the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, who gets regular briefings from the CIA about the evidence. She did go on CNN last month and was asked a series of questions about whether she’s seen evidence about a whole variety of theories of collusion, and she essentially said, “No, I’ve never seen any of that evidence.” She went on CNN in May and explicitly said, after a CIA briefing, that she’s not aware of any evidence of actual collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Now, you have, in this interview, Trump doing what he does, which is constantly lying about what Democrats have said, about the nature of the investigation. I think his attacks on Mueller are incredibly stupid, for the reason that you said, although, hopefully, Mueller, if he’s the professional that everyone says he is, won’t be affected by those attacks, he’ll simply follow the evidence.
But I think what’s really going on here, Amy, is this, and this is such an important point: If you look at how our political media works, the part of the political media that is partisan, the way that the right-wing media really grew was during the Clinton years, when people like Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report and, ultimately, Fox News fed on scandal after scandal after scandal, of Whitewater and Vince Foster, and then, ultimately, the Ken Starr investigation. And then you had the Fox News growing even more during the Obama years with all kinds of fake scandals. And what you see now is large parts of the media—MSNBC and lots of liberal websites—growing exponentially by constantly not talking about Trump’s dangerous foreign policy or his rollback of regulations or his ignoring of climate—the things that actually matter—but this obsession on the Russia scandal. And they’re getting great benefits from it. And so, that’s what happens, is we have this Balkanized media that feeds the audiences whatever it is that they want to hear, without any journalistic standards. And so the incentive is to constantly inflate and exaggerate and make it as sensationalistic as possible. And people are eating it up, to the profit of these media outlets. And I think that’s a lot of what’s going on here. And in some sense, when Trump says it’s energizing his base, he’s right. It’s essentially dividing America between “I hate Donald Trump, and therefore will believe everything about Russia that I hear” versus “I love Donald Trump, and I’ll believe nothing.” And it’s just sort of intensifying these divisions.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to our discussion with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with him in a minute.
From Damien Hirst’s Venice debacle to a misguided documenta 14 performance, here are the 2017 works we wish we could forget.
Always powered by calculated offense, Damien Hirst’s art has curdled over the years as he has become richer, more powerful, and more widely ridiculed. It seems he has begun to regard his audience not as a friend to be ennobled but an cupiditous, infantile enemy to be debased—at least that’s what you take away from his poisoned give-the-people-what-they-want extravaganza in Venice this year.
Positioned as a marvel of imagineering, where the high-quality execution and fabrication of its silly the-legends-are-real premise is a big draw, it also presents a very specific style of “realism,” drawn from the exaggerated desire-gratifying fantasy genres of comic books and pornography. And it’s not just the oodles of gold baubles, fossilized cartoon characters, and high-tech displays that feel like base pandering.
It isn’t sufficient for Hirst to create an ersatz bust of Nefertiti—he needs to show her breasts as well. And it isn’t sufficient to retell the horror story of the Minotaur’s predation of sacrificial maidens—he has to show the monster raping a beautiful (and screaming) naked woman.
Even a statue of a dead woman laid out on a stone platform is not allowed the solemnity of the subject. Instead, the marble sheet covering the cadaver is shown pulled down to expose her breasts, and draped so as to transparently show her genitals. It’s creepy.
In this age of relativism, some things are good and some things really are bad (in both senses), and this is the worst thing I saw all year.
The Argentinian artist Marta Minujín certainly has an impressive career behind her, but her teasing performance piece at documenta 14 was an ignorant oversimplification of a deeply complicated issue. Her work was the centerpiece in the foyer of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens. There, one found a square vat of juicy olives, the artist’s proposed sum for Greece’s debt repayment. It was bad, but it wasn’t offensive.
Then, however, came the performance. In the piece, the punky glam artist (wearing reflective sunglasses indoors) and an Angela Merkel impersonator swiveled around clumsily in office chairs, circling the olive vat before the Merkel doppelganger made a fast speech and agreed to write-off Greece’s debt. The artist and Merkel shook hands awkwardly before Minujín gave her a handful of olives to hold.
That was it. Subversion and comic transgression are definitely welcome in this debacle, but this performance missed the mark on both. It was way too self-evident and without any poetry.
This is a tough one. As crowds took to the streets on International Women’s Day on March 8, there was something undeniably inspiring about the viral sensation that was Fearless Girl, her tiny figure planted in the face of Charging Bull, a shining symbol of the worst of Wall Street greed. But even from the beginning, I had a tiny kernel of doubt.
I knew that Arturo Di Modica had created his massive bronze bull as a guerrilla artwork, installed illegally under cover of night back in 1989 as a symbol of the resiliency of the American economy, which at the time was still recovering from the 1987 crash. And as I read more, it became clear that Fearless Girl was not an authentically feel-good symbol of empowerment, but a calculated ad campaign from a financial firm looking to promote an exchange-traded fund focusing on companies with “greater gender diversity.”
Di Modica cried copyright infringement, and the two companies who commissioned the artwork, McCann and State Street Global Advisors, were outed for having only 27 and 18 percent female leadership, respectively. To add insult to injury, drunken Wall Street bros were spotting dry humping the statue, because Wall Street bros are the worst.
The death knell came in October, when the true extent of the publicity stunt’s cynicism was revealed: State Street’s parent company paid $5 million to settle a massive lawsuit alleging that its female and black employees were paid less than white men in comparable positions. Sadly, Fearless Girl has totally lost her feminist magic, if she ever had it to begin with.
In a year when George Orwell’s 1984 felt less fictional than ever, this installation musing on the ubiquity of surveillance felt more akin to a Dance Dance Revolution-style selfie generator. The artist’s worthy mission to have viewers consider how technology is used for nefarious purposes was eclipsed by the stupidity of the exercise.
The turkey of the year in London was Marc Quinn‘s new body of work, “All About Love,” installed all over Sir John Soane’s Museum—like a rash—from March until September. The dozen sculptures created from casts of the artist and his girlfriend, the dancer Jenny Bastet, gave the 19th-century house museum the look and feel of a love hotel. Toe curling.
I am always pulling for any non-performance artist who gets tapped by Performa to try their hand at the medium. But Nigerian-American photographer, writer, and critic Teju Cole’s Black Paper (2017), which tried to grapple with visceral reactions to Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency, offered an object lesson in the perils of venturing, untrained, into live events.
The audience sat in the round, centered on the artist, who pretended to sleep, so the images that unscrolled on the large screens surrounding the audience represented… a dream. We saw a succession of New York Times front pages since the day after the 2016 election, which gradually layered one atop another in a clunky metaphor for the passing of time (it was one year since the election, nearly to the day, you see). The arrhythmic soundtrack was an overt analogue for Trump-induced distress, and when The Donald’s own voice twice intoned the lone word “Muslims,” I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was being hit over the head—a sensation that peaked when the screens went black, the speakers silent, and the artist “awoke” with a scream.
I think we can all agree that the quality of a work of art is not proportional to the amount of time it took the artist make it. But I also think it’s fair to say that art should take at least some time to conceive. This was not the case for Kusama’s contribution to this year’s Armory Show, a large, polka-dotted playground.
“Kusama sketched something on a napkin, faxed it over, and we said, ‘Great!’” the Armory Show’s former director Ben Genocchio told ARTnews. The result is a work that is symbolic of an increasingly popular kind of art fair-friendly, mass-produced work. Like cotton candy, it’s devoid of nutritional value and it provides no lasting satisfaction—but it looks really good on Instagram.
Art about Trump, like the man himself, tends to lack subtlety and substance. But this gaudy, gross-out video recreating with Cheetos and mustard (so much mustard!) his alleged night in a Russian hotel room getting peed on by prostitutes takes the insipidity to a new level. After watching it, I wanted a shower—with water.
The artist, the curator, and everyone else involved in bringing this workshop to the Giardini were surely guided by good intentions: the artist’s studio collaborated with NGOs helping migrants and asylum-seekers from conflict-ridden countries acclimate in Europe and find meaningful occupation and social contacts while lingering in legal limbo. In return for their labor constructing the Danish-Icelandic artist’s famous modular lamps, participants received meals, legal counseling, and language classes—an admirable initiative, no doubt. (Asylum-seekers are not permitted to engage in gainful employment.) But holding the workshop inside the exhibition space necessarily turned it into a spectacle. Individual participants transformed into a homogeneous group of anonymous “others” who somehow ended up polishing an art star’s image as a do-gooder.
Look, I know this sculptural group, which occupied a major place at the Biennale, at the end of the Arsenale, is supposed to be about Very Serious Themes. It’s about national identity. It’s about art history (it’s based on a painting, The Return of the Indian Raid). Per its catalogue essay, it’s about the horse as “the protagonist of capitalist and colonial narratives of the extraction of the natural and its reconfiguration into a resource.”
I’ll admit that this is kind of a cheat, but an artist I had the privilege of getting to know very well this year introduced me to an idea that I fell in love with: namely, that there is no such thing as “bad art.” There is only art and delusion. And given how much delusion most of us have had to deal with in 2017, I don’t exactly feel compelled to close December by swinging a spotlight onto more hysteria.
There were a couple of times in recent months when I encountered depictions of women that once might’ve made me merely roll my eyes—the open-mouthed, hard-nippled muses of Tom Wesselmann, say, or 90 percent of fashion photography—but that now, in 2017, struck me as so passé as to almost be embarrassing.
That’s how I felt when I saw new photos by Richard Kern in magazines and on Instagram this year. The onetime documentarian of downtown New York’s drug-fueled depravity was a force for sexual liberation in the 1980s and ’90s. But he has since turned his gaze to far less engaging terrain these days: listless, rail-thin white girls, eyes almost always at half-mast.
I don’t want to deny Kern his legacy. But times change and in our post-Terry Richardson world, I think we can strive to be a bit more thoughtful about how and why we use the female nude going forward. Contrary to some popular fears, the current wave of sexual harassment scandals needn’t turn us back toward more repressive times. We need more art about sex, not less—and we should never censor any of it—but in 2018 I’ll be looking out for more from photographers like Deana Lawson, Catherine Opie, Collier Schorr, or A.L. Steiner instead.
” One more song about the end of the world…”
When did you last look up in the sky?
Really look at the sky and wonder?
Used to be you could see forever
Now there’s cracks in the canvas we’re under
This is the sound of the rooftop coming down
This ain’t a murder mystery
This is the sound of the four walls falling in
This is the stench of recent history
This house is crumbling
This property’s condemned
This house is crumbling
Who’ll say the last amen?
All of us Neros fanning ourselves
Damp with the sweat of regret
Just killing time with our eyes to the skies
Waiting on science our savior
This is the sound of your rooftop coming down
It’s time to meet the maker
This is the sound of the floorboards caving in
This is the knock of the undertaker
This house is crumbling
This property’s condemned
This house is crumbling
Who’ll say the last amen?
A child takes a crayon
And draws a black rainbow
Over a city where nobody is
What are they thinking,
These small-minded people?
That they can decode words on the wall?
This is the sound of the world coming down
This is the sex of history
This is the sound of the big house caving in
This is the friction of joy and misery
This house is crumbling
This property’s condemned
This house is tumbling down
Who’ll say the last amen?
© Chagall Guevera
Chagall Guevara, ‘Murder in the Big House’
Andy, Horace, Dusty Springfield, Candy & The Kisses, Peggy Lee, Little Anthony & The Imperials and more.
We are very lucky to have the most excellent Zoë Baxter back on the show. If you’ve been following her Lucky Cat show on Resonance FM
…..or been to one of her Sisters of Reggae nights
… you’ll know we are in for a treat!
(fragments from a handwritten epistle)
Since we last spoke, a few more sticks of dynamite
have been dropped on Nebraska.
Not death, the paradise I begin to fear
with each bite of reality.
I hope every day.
I learn how to starve better,
how to become vertebral red.
In absentia, the truth sweeps the ground
with half-written books.
Recently, I rounded my inquisitors up
to force-feed them the fundamentals of spring.
Shhht! Not a bad word in my ear!
The language made me a strange creature.
All that youth, so unreliable, unnecessary.
Eventually, I shake the dust off my clothes and
keep on walking. No doubt,
people like us will never possess a sole
Illustration Nick Victor
This morning I thought how it’s now a year
since, careless, we let slip the jug from our hands –
first you, then me. A crash and a silence and then
the trickle of something thicker than water, than
the small rain that’d soaked our hair the last days,
trickle sliding away into the sodden turning-cold ground.
Odd that we never managed to light the fire
without it smoking the place down, did we.
I wonder do you think of that? – I suppose
that’s why I’m writing you this letter. I
suppose that I may not send it. Outside
the acer’s starting to shed her leaves in their
many shades of gold, amber, red. I’ve just begun
to feed the birds. Is that news? Or this – yes, I’m still
grieving our recent loss. And there’s been another
bomb in my country. When the radio strikes the hour
I close my ears and watch the birds in the yard.
Is that cowardly? Other news – in the shed, one
or two hornets cling drowsily to the architecture
of their communal summer life. I imagine
the rest curled up dead somewhere dry
and dusty. Before winter. The Michaelmas daisies
have faded to the greying white of lost socks.
I wonder how you spend your days. I need
to sweep the courtyard but you know the leaves
are a kind of comfort blanket. I guess we all
need them – comfort blankets, I mean. I expect
you do too. Yes, we’re all doing fine. We are well.
If wonder if I will post this letter.
I wonder if you would open it.
We might draw any number of conclusions from the fact that rats’ brains are enough like ours that they stand in for humans in laboratories. A misanthropic existentialist may see the unflattering similarity as evidence that there’s nothing special about human beings, despite our grandiose sense of ourselves. A medieval European thinker would draw a moral lesson, pointing to the rat’s gluttony as nature’s allegory for human greed. And a skeptical observer in the 19th and early 20th centuries might take note of how easily both rats and humans can be manipulated; the latter, for example, by pseudo-phenomena like Spiritualism, which encompassed a wide range of claims about ghosts and the afterlife, from seances to spirit photography.
One such skeptical observer in 1920, Millaias Culpin, even wrote in his Spiritualism and the New Psychology of the “’scientific’ supporters of spiritualism,” most of them “eminent in physical science.” They are easily convinced, Culpin thought, because “they have been trained in a world where honesty is assumed to be a quality of all workers. A laboratory assistant who played a trick upon one of them would find his career at an end, and ordinary cunning is foreign to them. When they enter upon the world of Dissociates, where deceit masquerades under the disguise of transparent honesty, these eminent men are but as babes—country cousins in the hands of confidence-trick men.”
Such adherents of Spiritualist beliefs were taken in not because they were naturally credulous or stupid, but because they had been “trained” to trust the evidence of their senses. So-called spirit photographs, like those you see here, allowed people to “show material evidence for their beliefs.” Photographers who created the images, Mashable explains, could “easily make two exposures on a single negative, manipulate the negative to create ghostly blurs, or overlap two negatives in the darkroom to produce an extra face within the resultant frame.”
The audience for this work was “vast,” and many fit Culpin’s generalizations. In 1921, for example, paranormal investigator Hereward Carrington wrote of “a number of ‘spirit’ and ‘thought’ photographs, the evidence for which seemed to me to be exceptionally good.” In describing other pictures as “obviously fraudulent” or “extremely puzzling,” Carrington made critical distinctions and appeared to use the methods and the language of science in the evaluation of objects purporting to prove the existence of ghosts.
It may seem incredible that spirit photography had widespread appeal for as long as it did. The photographs first began appearing in the 1860s, emerging “from a small Boston portrait studio” and first made by William H. Mumler, the genre’s inventor and “most prominent early proponent,” writes Mashable.
Mumler was neither a photographer nor a medium. He originally worked as a silver engraver, while dabbling in photography in the local studio of a woman named Mrs. Stuart. One day in 1861, in the midst of developing a self-portrait, Mumler reported that the dim figure of a young cousin who had died twelve years earlier emerged in the final print.
These ghostly images continued to appear—on their own, the story goes—and the studio’s receptionist, a part-time medium, helped popularize them. Soon Mumler “received visitors from across America, including the recently widowed Mary Todd Lincoln.” Most of these visitors did not work as scientists or professional paranormal investigators. They were ordinary people bereaved by the mass death of the Civil War and deeply motivated to accept physical confirmation of an afterlife. Moreover, before the rise of Fundamentalist Evangelicalism in the 1920s, Spiritualism was on the front lines of an earlier culture war: spirit photography was “a tangible symbol of the overarching argument of mysticism versus science and rationalism.”
The three images at the top of the post date from the earliest period of spirit photography, between 1862 and 1875, and they were all produced by Mumler in Boston and New York, where he moved in 1869, and where he was charged with fraud, then “acquitted of all charges because they could not be sufficiently proven.” (See many more of his photos at Mashable and the Getty Museum online archive.) Though his business suffered, spirit photography only grew more popular, particularly in Spiritualist circles in Britain, where Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the hyper-rational Sherlock Holmes, was one of the most ardent of Spiritualist believers.
Doyle supported a British photographer named William Hope, who began taking spirit photographs in 1905, founded a group called the Crewe Circle and later “went on to prey on grieving families,” writes River Donaghey at Vice, “who lost loved ones in WWI and desperately wanted photographic proof that their relatives were still hovering around in spectral form.” Even after Hope and his crew were exposed, Doyle continued to support him, going so far as to write a book called The Case for Spirit Photography. The four photographs above and below are Hope’s work (see many more at Vice and the Public Domain Review). They are seriously creepy—in the way movies like The Ring are creepy—but they are also, quite obviously, photographic fictions.
Even as viewers of photography became savvier as the century wore on, many people thrilled to Hope’s work until his death in 1933, maybe for the same reason we watch The Ring; it’s a fun scare, nothing more, if we suspend our disbelief. As for the true believers in spirit photography—they are not so different either from us 21st century sophisticates. We’re still taken in all the time by hoaxes and frauds, maybe because it’s still as easy to push the buttons in our brains, and because, well, we just want to believe.
The unfortunate wording caught the attention of Christmas shoppers in Weston-super-Mare
A parish council has apologised if anyone was offended after an unfortunate error on their community minibus spelt out the word ‘anus’.
Councillors at Churchill Parish Council were left red-faced after discovering that when the door of their community minibus was opened, the phrase Churchill Anus Society was spelt out.
When closed, the actual wording on the side of the bus should read Churchill and Langford Minibus Society.
The unfortunate wording caught the attention of Christmas shoppers in Weston-super-Mare over the weekend.
One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, was doing some last-minute food shopping at Asda in the town when he spotted the bus.
He said: “I just had to take this picture while Christmas shopping at Asda. Wonder how many more amusing words out there when opening sliding doors.”
Laura Batt, the booking secretary for the minibus, has now responded to the photograph saying that the council is aware of the situation.
She said: “We have been made aware of this situation and this will be addressed in the New Year as we have had a shortage of funds and not been in a position to have the signage amended before.
“Obviously no offence was intended to the general public. The wording will be corrected as soon as possible.
“We have been running our Minibus Society for over 42 years and have not had any issues previously.”
Elliot Shavers and His Blazers, J.T. Parker, The Montclairs, Skip Robinson, Jimmy McCracklin and more.
Radiocore DJs Steam Stock and Dust Bucket team up for Hot Sauce! A smoking hot mix of mouth watering tunes to get your feet moving, your back bending, and to make you sweat!
They’re looking out for gigs in and around London, so if you want to hire them or can help them out in some way get in touch via fb, with either Steam Stock: https://www.facebook.com/steamsjukeboxshuffle/ or Dust Bucket: https://www.facebook.com/thedustbucketshow/
It isn’t really an easy topic to speak about because in a place like the Delta you have had so much movement over the years; it is nothing to travel from one county to the next or one town to the next—up the line, first on the railroad, then later on the paved roads, Highway 61, etc. So probably every blues singer of any renown in the Delta has at one time or another played in Clarksdale or Coahoma County. Of course there have been many blues singers with national reputations who have played here in Clarksdale. It is a pretty large town and has been a center for the surrounding area.
He is still living in Rochester, New York, at the age of about 79, and he is no longer playing actively. But he was rediscovered so to speak in the 1960s and had quite a good career for several years until he got kind of sick. He made an album for Columbia and several other pieces–I think another album on a European label. He has been interviewed extensively; I interviewed him myself in 1964 shortly after he was rediscovered.
Another man who recorded in this project in Clarksdale was David Edwards, also quite a young singer at the time. He recorded 15 pieces as well as some talks and toasts and quite a bit of interview material. And then a fine pianist, as recorded in Clarksdale and Friars Point, a man named Thomas Jones, better known as Jay Bird Jones.
Bird Jones had earlier recorded in Memphis in, I believe, the late 1920s. One of the pieces he recorded on the project in the 1940s was called “Keghouse Blues.” He also accompanied a woman in singing one song.
Having once been involved in the founding of an arts magazine, I have experienced intimately the ways in which such an endeavor can depend upon a community of equals pooling a diversity of skills. The process can be painful: egos compete, certain elements seek to dominate, but the successful product of such a collaborative effort will represent a living community of artists, writers, editors, and other masters of technique who subordinate their individual wills, temporarily, to the will of a collective, creating new gestalt identities from conceptual atoms. As Monoskop—“a wiki for collaborative studies of art, media and the humanities”—points out, “the whole” of an arts magazine, “could become greater than the sum of its parts.” Often when this happens, a publication can serve as the platform or nucleus of an entirely new movement.
Monoskop maintains a digital archive of printed avant-garde and modernist magazines dating from the late-19th century to the late 1930s, published in locales from Arad to Bucharest, Copenhagen to Warsaw, in addition to the expected New York and Paris. From the latter city comes the 1924 first issue of Surrealisme at the top of the post.
From the much smaller city of Arad in Romania comes the March, 1925 issue 1 of Periszkóp above, published in Hungarian and featuring works by Picasso, Marc Chagall, and many lesser-known Eastern European artists. Just below, see another Paris publication: the first, 1929 issue of Documents, a surrealist journal edited by Georges Bataille and featuring such luminaries as Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier and artists Georges Braque, Giorgio De Chirico, Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Klee, Joan Miro, and Pablo Picasso. Further down, see the first, 1926, issue of the Bauhaus journal, vehicle of the famous arts movement founded by Walter Gropius in 1919.
The variety of modernist and avant garde publications archived at Monoskop “provide us with a historical record of several generations of artists and writers.” They also “remind us that our lenses matter.” In an age of “the relentless linearity of digital bits and the UX of the glowing screen” we tend to lose sight of such critically important matters as design, typography, layout, writing, and the “techniques of printing and mechanical reproduction.” Anyone can build a website, fill it with “content,” and propagate it globally, giving little or no thought to aesthetic choices and editorial framing. But the magazines represented in Monoskop’s archive are specialized creations, the products of very deliberate choices made by groups of highly skilled individuals with very specific aesthetic agendas.
A majority of the publications represented come from the explosive period of modernist experimentation between the wars, but several, like the journal Rhythm: Art Music Literature—first published in 1911—offer glimpses of the early stirrings of modernist innovation in the Anglophone world. Others like the 1890-93 Parisian Entretiens politiques et littéraires showcase the work of pioneering early French modernist forebears like Jules Laforgue (a great influence upon T.S. Eliot) and also André Gide and Stéphane Mallarmé. Some of the publications here are already famous, like The Little Review, many much lesser-known. Most published only a handful of issues.
With a few exceptions—such as the 1923 Japanese publication MAVO shown above—almost all of the journals represented at Monoskop’s archive hail from Eastern and Western Europe and the U.S.. While “only a few journals had any significant impact outside the avant-garde circles in their time,” the ripples of that impact have spread outward to encompass the art and design worlds that surround us today. These examples of the literary and design culture of early 20th century modernist magazines, like those of late 20th century postmodern ‘zines, provide us with a distillation of minor movements that came to have major significance in decades hence.
it still isn’t easy to know
That there will be no more of you
As even now, six years later
All you seem to do is go on.
Your voice in the hush of this desolate hour
In which the jahrzeit candle is burning
To mark the day of your birth, without song.
I celebrate you still in the beam
That it casts from the hallway
In the house gifted to me
Each shadow, each light remains yours.
Happy birthday and more;
May your returns appear to me
Even when the world has stopped watching
And I stay behind my closed door,
The heart will remain, captive it’s clear
To each moment, which i live again
Thinking of you. Happy birthday mum.
I dreamt of you. And there through new darkness
You were once again all I saw.
David Erdos 28/12/17
Here’s how it started…
A typical Spring day, despite the vagaries
Of climate change and atmospheric pollution.
Gossamer wisps of cloud in an otherwise blue, translucent sky,
With the sun dazzlingly bright, and a touch of frost in the air.
On the spur of the moment, you decide to take a stroll
Through the local municipal park, since,
At ten o’clock on this particular Friday morning,
You know the local children will be hidden away
In their respective citadels of scholarly conformity.
As you amble towards the bandstand, placed at the heart
Of the park’s stretched out expanse – which comprises tennis courts,
A cricket field, two interchangeable sports pitches, a bowls area,
Children’s playground and a kickabout enclosure –
You notice your exhaled breath appears like smoke,
And begins to form unfamiliar patterns and shapes,
As it ascends towards the heavens:
A disturbing phenomenon, which leaves you somewhat
Disorientated and more than a little non-plussed.
Perhaps, you speculate, the three cups of coffee you consumed,
In quick succession, before setting off, were ill-advised,
And the phantasmagorical abstractions
You perceive in the morning air are nothing more than
Mild hallucinations, brought about by a quick-fire surge
Of caffeine to your body.
With this in mind, you enter the circular enclosure, and settle down
On an unforgiving wooden bench seat.
As you stare out upon the general vista, with its lofty, well-established trees
And overflowing waste bins; as you hear the roaring of the river,
Tumbling over ancient rocks and rusted shopping trolleys,
Heading for the Severn Sea; a river whose clear source lies high
In the rarefied mountains thirty miles or so inland,
Where chemical rubbish is nowhere to be found,
You begin to sense a shimmering in the air, a dislocation of Time and Space,
A vague perception of something barely remembered from childhood,
Almost as if an alien energy source is attempting to impose itself
On your vision of the world.
Shuddering, as if horrified by such a possibility,
You shut your eyes tight, steady your posture, and breathe deep:
From diaphragm to upper chest, a slow, careful inhalation.
Even as you hold the air in your body, you become distinctly aware
That when you finally open your eyes, things will not be as they were:
A change will have occurred.
Suddenly, without warning, the temperature plummets,
And unfamiliar sounds, scents and sensations o’erwhelm you.
Gasping, with an exhalation of breath, you open your eyes,
And gawp with astonishment at a world transformed.
The park – the pretty, neatly organised, municipal park – is gone.
Instead, as if a door has opened on to a dream landscape,
You find yourself in a natural clearing, surrounded by a myriad
Of Oak trees – an all-embracing assembly, as far as your eye can see:
An Oak forest, whose canopy stretches high above you,
With a sharply coloured sky beyond – pale, intense, azuline.
The bench seat you were sitting on has vanished, too,
Replaced with a tump of green and brown living scrub.
Strangest of all, none of this seems strange to you in the slightest,
Since – somehow, at some point – you’ve been here before,
Although the ‘when’ escapes you, for the time being.
Compelled by the sheer majesty of your new surroundings,
You stand, and silently contemplate the sentient buzz and beat
Which seemingly reverberate through the crystalline air:
Hypnotic, wordless whispers draw you ineluctably forward –
First one step, then another – as the clearing is cleared,
And you enter the body of the throng.
Despite the chilled air, you feel warmed to the bone
By the gentle yet firm embrace of the Quercus robur –
The pendunculate denizens native to the isles of your birthing.
Perhaps this is a dream, you tell yourself, or one more manifestation
Of the morning’s caffeine overload, but in your secret soul,
You know this is real: more real than the everyday, dull,
Humdrum routine of material certainty.
You’ve come home to the roots of your own dark Oak heart…
Proceeding slowly through the forest, you become aware
Of the increasing imperative of the whispering,
Almost as if the trees are singing to spur you on your way:
A peculiar song-line, signally tailored to suit your specific journey.
As the sound continues, the shape of a woman begins to emerge
In the near distance, and – even though her face
Is indistinguishable at this stage – you already know you know her.
Closer, and closer still, she glides towards you,
As your pulse rate increases exponentially.
And then – there she is, a tall, russet-haired, slim figure,
Garbed in a red djellaba with hood,
Diaphanous white sleeves, and a gold, embroidered
Interlinking pattern dominating the centre of the gown.
On her forehead, a single red stone, held about her head
By a chain of small, white pearls: a Druid priestess,
Standing before you, demi-goddess of the Oak,
Wise in alchemy, medicine, law, science, magic and astronomy.
A poet beyond compare, whose words sing and dance in the air,
In perfect harmony with their surroundings – natural and preturnatural.
You find yourself drawn to her pale blue, moon eyes,
Which suggest worlds within worlds, and endless latent possibilities.
Her perfectly balanced, exquisite face, youthful yet ancient,
With its fine, aquiline nose, pronounced cheek bones
And delicate, smiling mouth entrance you to the point
Of losing yourself in a reverie of ‘if only’ and ‘perhaps’;
A reverie made even sweeter when she inclines her head
Towards yours, whispers in your ear, and almost casually
Brushes her lips against your lips, in an intimate act of mutual recognition.
Compelled by forgotten longings, you reach towards her,
And embrace, as she embraces you – gently, gently –
Till your bodies all-but merge, one with the other:
Two spirits, female and male, one Being; your soul-mate,
The eternal Anam Cara… From the quiet girl in the playground
Who shyly waved at you when you were seven years old,
To the neighbour’s daughter who kissed you sweetly when you were ten;
From the school girl three years your senior who seduced you shortly after
Your thirteenth birthday, to the fearful friend who, at seventeen,
Tearfully asked you to stop before things went too far; from the
Crazy Flower-Child of twenty, who embraced anything and everything,
To the sad student, desperate to lose her virginity at the age of twenty-five:
A sacred litany of lovers loved, on and on and on, and all contained
Within the metamorphosed single creature you’ve mysteriously become,
A seamless amalgam of X and Y chromosomes, with a pinch of faery dust –
For good measure.
The words that were whispered in your ear whirl round your conscious mind:
“We are two spirits dwelling in one body. If thou seest me, thou seest her,
And if thou seest her, thou seest us both.” Suddenly, incredibly,
You and she – two spirits in one – are lifted up, and flying high
Above the trees, a golden eagle, in soaring flight, imperial and serene,
Observing the topography of the earth below.
With wings outstretched, feathers glinting in the dazzling light,
You train your blinking, remorseless eye on all that moves within the scope
Of your telescopic colour vision, yelping as you swoop and glide.
Over hills, mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, deserts, seas you fly,
Untroubled by the constraints of mere gravity.
And then you dive, down down, deep down, crashing through the surface
Of the ocean, and re-emerging further transformed, in dolphin guise;
A bottlenose, skimming the water’s surface, leaping for joy,
Blowing bubbles for the sheer fun of it, and calling out to your friends
“Come and join me”, as you play and chatter and sing your pelagic songs,
Via smart sonar technology, free of charge (leaving Google, Apple,
And all the rest, way behind in their bid to utilitise the whole of Creation),
Sending out erotic signals to would-be partners, using echo location
In your quest for food, and issuing warnings to other members of the pod,
Lest predators lurk in the hidden, murky depths of the ocean’s dark trenches.
For now, you’re content to jump clear of the water, propelled by the flukes
On your tail; powerful, muscular flukes that drive you through the seas
At high speed, and take you down as far as three thousand feet.
Up, up, up in the air you fly, and transform again: now, a mature stag –
A wild red hart, roaming free betwixt woodland and field,
Marvelling in your own magnificent, luxuriant exuberance.
Weighing over five hundred pounds, with velvet-free antlers,
You strut your stuff, and prance in the morning’s light: self-assured,
Confident, at ease with yourself, knowing that your bony display –
A weapon system-cum-aphrodisiac – is bigger than your nearest rival’s,
And therefore more likely to guarantee you peace and quiet,
As well as intense physical delight when the rutting moon appears.
You close your eyes, and contemplate the good times ahead…
Reflection done, eyes unclasped, you discover you’ve metamorphosed again.
Now, you’re floating through distant galaxies, star clusters, nebulae;
Weightless as an atom, free as thought, hand in hand with your substantial,
Yet ethereal twin spirit: she effortlessly guides you, as cosmic vibrations
Echo the peculiar song-line of the Oak trees –
A confluence of phenomena, breathtaking in its implication:
As if the entire universe sings one song, across all of Time and Space,
In a swelling form of perfect harmony – the music of the spheres.
Your eye is caught by a swirling mess of light; a frantic spiral
Of illumination, and you find yourself inexorably drawn towards it,
And to the source of a great unsettling power.
In next to no time, you’re hovering above the rim of a giant black hole,
Although it’s more blue-grey than black, and to call it a hole is to
Understate the matter a million-fold: this Nosferatu of the heavens,
Which sucks energy from everything that falls within its greedy,
Your twin spirit merges deep within you, as you sway
In the petrified atmosphere, half in love with the notion of letting go,
And dropping, as inconsequential as dust, into the unforgiving
Heart of the beckoning maw beneath your uncertain feet.
You force yourself to focus, to think, to imagine an ‘elsewhere’,
But the hellish light enfolds your thoughts,
And the odds are stacked against you.
Shutting your eyes tight, you steady your posture, and breathe deep:
From diaphragm to upper chest, a slow, careful inhalation.
Even as you hold the air in your body, which comprises two spirits,
You’re distinctly aware that when you open your eyes – if you ever do –
Things will not be as they were: a change will have occurred…
The park – the pretty, neatly organised, municipal park – is as it was, as it is,
With its well-established trees, overflowing waste bins, cricket field,
Tennis courts, children’s playground and so on.
A touch of frost remains in the air, and the sun still dazzles with its glare.
The wooden bench seat you’re perched on is as unforgiving,
And damned uncomfortable, as it was before, and life goes on,
Without fuss, as normal… Or so it seems.
And yet, things are not as they were; you are not as you were:
You have been transfigured, from within and without.
Deep down inside your secret soul, another spirit lives and breathes,
As you live and breathe: she and you conjoined, for what remains
Of your fractured life.
Walking home, to return to the routine certainties of the daily grind,
Seems faintly ridiculous; a senseless exercise in keeping up appearances,
Especially given your urgent need to journey again and again, to fly
With the eagles, dive with the dolphins, strut with the deer,
And dance through the starry cosmos.
You’re irresistibly reminded of Bottom the weaver, and his fantastical dream,
As he struggles to express the inexpressible:
“I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say
what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream.
Methought I was – there is no man can tell what.
Methought I was, and methought I had, but man is but a patched fool, if he will offer to say what
methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen,
man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to
report, what my dream was.”
Poor, lovely, lowly Bottom, tongue-tied and amazed, cursed for all time,
By a dream, which wasn’t a dream; to which he should never have been privy.
You, on the other hand, have been blessed by a Druid priestess,
Who you knew all along, and who is now your guiding spirit,
In whatever form she takes, as you continue on your travels.
And this makes you smile.
Dafydd ap Pedr
Very Best New Year to all Our Diverse Readers.
RONALD REAGAN famously said, “We fought a war on poverty and poverty won.” With 46 million Americans — 15 percent of the population — now counted as poor, it’s tempting to think he may have been right.
Look a little deeper and the temptation grows. The lowest percentage in poverty since we started counting was 11.1 percent in 1973. The rate climbed as high as 15.2 percent in 1983. In 2000, after a spurt of prosperity, it went back down to 11.3 percent, and yet 15 million more people are poor today.
At the same time, we have done a lot that works. From Social Security to food stamps to the earned-income tax credit and on and on, we have enacted programs that now keep 40 million people out of poverty. Poverty would be nearly double what it is now without these measures, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. To say that “poverty won” is like saying the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts failed because there is still pollution.
With all of that, why have we not achieved more? Four reasons: An astonishing number of people work at low-wage jobs. Plus, many more households are headed now by a single parent, making it difficult for them to earn a living income from the jobs that are typically available. The near disappearance of cash assistance for low-income mothers and children — i.e., welfare — in much of the country plays a contributing role, too. And persistent issues of race and gender mean higher poverty among minorities and families headed by single mothers.
The first thing needed if we’re to get people out of poverty is more jobs that pay decent wages. There aren’t enough of these in our current economy. The need for good jobs extends far beyond the current crisis; we’ll need a full-employment policy and a bigger investment in 21st-century education and skill development strategies if we’re to have any hope of breaking out of the current economic malaise.
This isn’t a problem specific to the current moment. We’ve been drowning in a flood of low-wage jobs for the last 40 years. Most of the income of people in poverty comes from work. According to the most recent data available from the Census Bureau, 104 million people — a third of the population — have annual incomes below twice the poverty line, less than $38,000 for a family of three. They struggle to make ends meet every month.
Half the jobs in the nation pay less than $34,000 a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. A quarter pay below the poverty line for a family of four, less than $23,000 annually. Families that can send another adult to work have done better, but single mothers (and fathers) don’t have that option. Poverty among families with children headed by single mothers exceeds 40 percent.
Wages for those who work on jobs in the bottom half have been stuck since 1973, increasing just 7 percent.
It’s not that the whole economy stagnated. There’s been growth, a lot of it, but it has stuck at the top. The realization that 99 percent of us have been left in the dust by the 1 percent at the top (some much further behind than others) came far later than it should have — Rip Van Winkle and then some. It took the Great Recession to get people’s attention, but the facts had been accumulating for a long time. If we’ve awakened, we can act.
Low-wage jobs bedevil tens of millions of people. At the other end of the low-income spectrum we have a different problem. The safety net for single mothers and their children has developed a gaping hole over the past dozen years. This is a major cause of the dramatic increase in extreme poverty during those years. The census tells us that 20.5 million people earn incomes below half the poverty line, less than about $9,500 for a family of three — up eight million from 2000.
Why? A substantial reason is the near demise of welfare — now called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF. In the mid-90s more than two-thirds of children in poor families received welfare. But that number has dwindled over the past decade and a half to roughly 27 percent.
One result: six million people have no income other than food stamps. Food stamps provide an income at a third of the poverty line, close to $6,300 for a family of three. It’s hard to understand how they survive.
At least we have food stamps. They have been a powerful antirecession tool in the past five years, with the number of recipients rising to 46 million today from 26.3 million in 2007. By contrast, welfare has done little to counter the impact of the recession; although the number of people receiving cash assistance rose from 3.9 million to 4.5 million since 2007, many states actually reduced the size of their rolls and lowered benefits to those in greatest need.
Race and gender play an enormous part in determining poverty’s continuing course. Minorities are disproportionately poor: around 27 percent of African-Americans, Latinos and American Indians are poor, versus 10 percent of whites. Wealth disparities are even wider. At the same time, whites constitute the largest number among the poor. This is a fact that bears emphasis, since measures to raise income and provide work supports will help more whites than minorities. But we cannot ignore race and gender, both because they present particular challenges and because so much of the politics of poverty is grounded in those issues.
We know what we need to do — make the rich pay their fair share of running the country, raise the minimum wage, provide health care and a decent safety net, and the like. But realistically, the immediate challenge is keeping what we have. Representative Paul Ryan and his ideological peers would slash everything from Social Security to Medicare and on through the list, and would hand out more tax breaks to the people at the top. Robin Hood would turn over in his grave.
We should not kid ourselves. It isn’t certain that things will stay as good as they are now. The wealth and income of the top 1 percent grows at the expense of everyone else. Money breeds power and power breeds more money. It is a truly vicious circle.
A surefire politics of change would necessarily involve getting people in the middle — from the 30th to the 70th percentile — to see their own economic self-interest. If they vote in their own self-interest, they’ll elect people who are likely to be more aligned with people with lower incomes as well as with them. As long as people in the middle identify more with people on the top than with those on the bottom, we are doomed. The obscene amount of money flowing into the electoral process makes things harder yet.
But history shows that people power wins sometimes. That’s what happened in the Progressive Era a century ago and in the Great Depression as well. The gross inequality of those times produced an amalgam of popular unrest, organization, muckraking journalism and political leadership that attacked the big — and worsening — structural problem of economic inequality. The civil rights movement changed the course of history and spread into the women’s movement, the environmental movement and, later, the gay rights movement. Could we have said on the day before the dawn of each that it would happen, let alone succeed? Did Rosa Parks know?
We have the ingredients. For one thing, the demographics of the electorate are changing. The consequences of that are hardly automatic, but they create an opportunity. The new generation of young people — unusually distrustful of encrusted power in all institutions and, as a consequence, tending toward libertarianism — is ripe for a new politics of honesty. Lower-income people will participate if there are candidates who speak to their situations. The change has to come from the bottom up and from synergistic leadership that draws it out. When people decide they have had enough and there are candidates who stand for what they want, they will vote accordingly.
I have seen days of promise and days of darkness, and I’ve seen them more than once. All history is like that. The people have the power if they will use it, but they have to see that it is in their interest to do so.
Japanese animation, AKA anime, might be filled with large-eyed maidens, way cool robots, and large-eyed, way cool maiden/robot hybrids, but it often shows a level of daring, complexity and creativity not typically found in American mainstream animation. And the form has spawned some clear masterpieces from Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira to Mamoru Oishii’sGhost in the Shell to pretty much everything that Hayao Miyazaki has ever done.
Anime has a far longer history than you might think; in fact, it was at the vanguard of Japan’s furious attempts to modernize in the early 20th century. The oldest surviving example of Japanese animation, Namakura Gatana (Blunt Sword), dates back to 1917, though much of the earliest animated movies were lost following a massive earthquake in Tokyo in 1923. As with much of Japan’s cultural output in the first decades of the 20th Century, animation from this time shows artists trying to incorporate traditional stories and motifs in a new modern form.
Above is Oira no Yaku (Our Baseball Game) from 1931, which shows rabbits squaring off against tanukis (raccoon dogs) in a game of baseball. The short is a basic slapstick comedy elegantly told with clean, simple lines. Rabbits and tanukis are mainstays of Japanese folklore, though they are seen here playing a sport that was introduced to the country in the 1870s. Like most silent Japanese movies, this film made use of a benshi – a performer who would stand by the movie screen and narrate the movie. In the old days, audiences were drawn to the benshi, not the movie. Akira Kurosawa’s elder brother was a popular benshi who, like a number of despondent benshis, committed suicide when the popularity of sound cinema rendered his job obsolete.
Then there’s this version of the Japanese folktale Kobu-tori from 1929, about a woodsman with a massive growth on his jaw who finds himself surrounded by magical creatures. When they remove the lump, he finds that not everyone is pleased. Notice how detailed and uncartoony the characters are.
Another early example of early anime is Ugokie Kori no Tatehiki (1931), which roughly translates into “The Moving Picture Fight of the Fox and the Possum.” The 11-minute short by Ikuo Oishi is about a fox who disguises himself as a samurai and spends the night in an abandoned temple inhabited by a bunch of tanukis (those guys again). The movie brings all the wonderful grotesqueries of Japanese folklore to the screen, drawn in a style reminiscent of Max Fleisher and Otto Messmer.
And finally, there is this curious piece of early anti-American propaganda from 1936 that features a phalanx of flying Mickey Mouses (Mickey Mice?) attacking an island filled with Felix the Cat and a host of other poorly-rendered cartoon characters. Think Toontown drawn by Henry Darger. All seems lost until they are rescued by figures from Japanese history and legend. During its slide into militarism and its invasion of Asia, Japan argued that it was freeing the continent from the grip of Western colonialism. In its queasy, weird sort of way, the short argues precisely this. Of course, many in Korea and China, which received the brunt of Japanese imperialism, would violently disagree with that version of events.
Find more gems in the Animation section of our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.
Originally from http://www.openculture.com
Waves of electronica accompanied by sails of echoing guitar usher in the luscious new album Walking to Babylon by Comet Hotel’s three performer/composer Maitre D’s, Amanda Thompson, Keith Rodway and Alan Bruzon. Prospective listeners are well advised to make this journey over whatever turbulent seas they may encounter as the shelter from the prospective storm that surrounds them in this shattered age is one of both revelation and aural reward. As the title track will later show, we are all seeking something ill or undefined in the lives we lead, as a possible means of renewal and the personal Babylon everyone carries, which either contains or alludes to their own sense of becoming is one that is ever changing, dependent on need, mood or trouble. This record speaks of such journeys, places and states in an artful and elegant way. It is a song cycle and soundtrack to a mixture of elements and the idea of the Hotel as a house for ideas is as enchanting as it is necessary. Indeed, this collection of ten songs and pieces has more than a touch of alchemy to it, in that it offers what all the best art should do: a sense of transformation and transport, if not from location to location then certainly across the numerous states of being. It is a beautiful record and therefore, if I can be permitted to continue these sketched in analogies, an ideal destination for the prospective visiting listener and resident. The passing of a comet is a way of seeing a tearing or opening of the sky, an act that perhaps unites and reveals all of our respective distances.
The gorgeous shimmer of opening track Riverbed sets the template for this sumptuous invitation to check in. ‘Take me where the water’s kind’ is the call, elegantly voiced by the girlish angelicism of Amanda Thompson’s (of The Big Believe), as if by visiting this imagined and yet strangely realised place, one becomes a representation of the journey undertaken. The effect of songs of this style, of which there are very few – evidenced only in ancient sources beyond western music or in certain ambient and esoteric areas of David Sylvian’s expansive muse – is to construct a beautiful joining of word and sound, each affecting the other, and often at times, changing place.
Two following instrumentals from the film Being Penny substantiate this claim as their specific approach and construction echo a kind of singing through the singular soundworlds created and through two complimentary and thoroughly evocative melodies. An uncanny banjo strum combined with E-bow stylings afford Banjothing a beguiling Eastern air as an arcing Asian style melody line receives electronic treatment to become the snake, charming and staining the very air into which it rises, as opposed to its begetter, and its rhythmic insistence, propelled by Rodway’s gentle and lover like bass playing, enchant and mystify in equal measure. You find a similar very Western style equivalent in the stunning progression within the old Genesis song, Entangled by Tony Banks and Steve Hackett, which on first hearing totally overwhelms you, and the same thing occurs here.
This is enhanced and re-emphasised by the second instrumental, Bolls, which rolls suitably into view on a clang of aptly chosen (or was it the other way round!) steel bowls and bowed mandolin, with an equally snaking melody that this time sears the dream of a wound with the kind of spice and charge that only those seeking the extents of sensation could manage. These pieces are from a film, as well as being musical/sound films in and of themselves and their power, ease and drive speak to the soul and the skin and serve to make the furnishings and surroundings of this particular hotel irresistible.
Arcade features slightly phased or flanged vocals from Amanda Thompson, allowing the angel in her throat a sense of threat as she implores us to ‘not be afraid’, and yet there is something ominous in the songscape around her, mixed, boiled and even curdled by the seismic pounding of Keith Rodway’s 5 string fretless bass and Hotel resident Mick Hutchinson’s trumpeting guitars that soon make all sorts of demands on the attendant staff. From charged ambience to a frenzy of musical activity, here is the Hotel at the height of its powers, all lights flashing and all services on display.
Album title track Walking to Babylon sees the Hotel’s functionality alter and deepen as other guests, residents and passing musicians add to the life and soul of the place in profound fashion. What seemed dreamlike and hallucinogenic now takes on a new order and the Hotel management reveal themselves to be both guides and protectors. Composed by Keith Rodway, this piece taken from another film, Forgivenes, honours the journeys taken and those still to be adopted in a totally unexpected fashion. Bruzon and Rodway move to piano and synth, Thompson arranges and Jenny Benwell’s Viola elegantly houses the classicism and purity of Derek Lee Ragin and Melody Wescott’s vocals. It becomes clear that the view from this particular hotel is ever changing and that the passing or spotting of the comet is a phenomenon affecting all perception:
‘Oh this is all so strange/Love in this lonely place,’ the lyric states and album lyricist Keith Rodway shows a poet’s hand in creating musical and lyrical lines that shine and shimmer off the walls of the place like the frenzy and foam of the sea. It is a stately and beautiful song that shows that beneath ambience and experimentalism, the classic and class retain ground.
Corpus Speculorum washes in like God’s weather, with a musical representation of whalesong and with the scale and gleam of one too. Whispered vocals intone, air is released, e-bow reverberations unseat us, along with bowed bass and piano, securing the notion that what can be heard on the wind can be re-interpreted beyond words. It is one of those pieces of music that joins listener to composer/performer and creates the true musical language common to us all. The blurring of sound and note makes a kind of community of response and once more the Hotel allows such convergence though a mixture of expediency and location. It is a wondrous piece of music reminding me of the best parts of the Sally Potter’s Orlando soundtrack when Fred Frith crests crescendos before falling back into calm. We become aware at this point how skilled these musicians are and how tasteful. There are creating art in the best sense, devoid of a capital A and for its own sake, using music as the sea and source of discovery and thereby conquering the land on which that music is experienced. That land may be reasonably small in terms of execution but its resonance and potential are vast. Here is the sea calling out to rejoin us and here is the land bidding it.
Nail arrives on a skitter of drums and dream pop with Bruton’s chuntering guitar and Thompson’s youthful and beguiling and elegant snarl failing to ‘get you into her bed/ and out of her head.’ The song and title certainly drives the point home as it speaks of a ‘Daily Mail nation / moral masturbation’ and becomes a fine and striking contrast to what we have already heard, as if this Shangri La like location had suddenly received a stroppy teenage visitor, rampaging through the European style corridors, wearing a Man City T- shirt, a buzzcut and a beer. It humanises the dream and shows the skill that’s on offer. There is caviar on the menu with a burger and burp on the side.
Sat Chit Ananda by Hutchinson, Rodway and Thompson has a stuttering guitar figure that distorts a pop approach and has all the sun and swelter of a golden afternoon pouring in through the window as the voluptuous curtains part and Babylon or something looking very much like it sidles its way into view.
Outside In is a psychedelic summer in its own right. A swirling lava lamp of guitar that develops the restrained figure of the previous song and reminds us that from this particular Hotel, all features and views are subject to reformation and change. It is a beautiful piece, unlike anything you may have previously heard but contains enough familiar elements to both appeal and enchant. If I am to extend the Hotel analogy once more I might say that its summation of musical joy is invigorating and restorative and that it creates the impression that having settled in this particular location, it is one you would not wish to leave.
Masks closes the record and reveals Keith Rodway as a master of chamber music. It equals if not supercedes the beauty of the title track as the same ensemble reveal how ‘the wheel keeps turning’ and how in our lives ‘we all keep learning.’ The Masks behind which we actively choose to isolate ourselves from each other are rendered transparent in this particular song and place and indeed reveal this entire album to be an essential purchase and destination, offered by a hosting trio and their attendant associates with the intention of providing answers both solid and sensed to the problems and pressures of day. Babylon is a place through which I have walked. Now I hear it. Close to the hotel stands Eden. And beyond Eden and under the comet’s path, the soul sings.
David Erdos 1/1/18
Watch the video for Walking to Babylon starring Derek Lee Ragin here:
AS THE SOUL SINGS
Walking to Babylon is a career-spanning album by cult South Coast band Comet Hotel. More than just a standard best-of, Babylon shows the band’s eclecticism, its breadth of musical influences and its refusal to take itself entirely seriously, whilst at being – at the same time – entirely serious about its music.
With guest appearances from chart-busting Cuban Boy Alan Bruzon (Cognoscenti vs Intelligentsia, number 4 in the British singles charts, December 1999), British guitar maestro Mick Hutchinson (who once jammed with Jimi Hendrix) and Golden Globe winner, American counter-tenor Derek Lee Ragin (the voice of Farinelli in the 1994 film by Gerard Corbiau), the album fuses Americana, electronica, film soundtracks and neo-classical chamber music with the band’s own unique brand of mutant pop.
To buy the album on CD, please send £6.00 (including postage) by PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll put your copy in the post. We also have one remaining copy on lathe-cut transparent vinyl, with artwork by Peter Quinnell, hand-cut by Michel Wilson of Bladud Flies! This is one of a limited edition of 5 copies. Price £40.00.
Picture: Elena Caldera
The cracking -biting -grey -sick -lips of Winter
bruising the old and the poor
slapping their purple frost -bitten faces with gusts of wind
infecting cuts – drowning lesions
A river of septicaemia
The curly bob tailed boils of weeping pus
ensconced in folds of fingers and toes
And the tea coloured wheeze of a tiny tot
shivers – all alone
On the pages of glamocracy
Stylish poses in ski suits and goggles
against a backdrop of Hollywood snow, and look there’s
Father Christmas – has he avoided the old white patriarch tag
Sleighing all over town –
a rascal of elves in tow ?
Would it be wrong to criticise the monoracial scenery
of the jet set in Klosters and Courchevel ?
The world’s slopes awash with dirty white money
Michelin starred hideaways private chefs and hot tubs
golden keys to an off shore magic circle where only
the very richest of the rich are on the list
And on the resisting night of New Year’s Eve
I think of all the razzmatazz angel frosted lighted trees
candy cane tinsel dreams corrupted voices preaching austerity
A homeless girl -eyelashes jewelled by snow
her entire universe huddled close
in the black garbage bag at her feet
Her hair dusted with icy rain
Silver strands glistening like diamonds
Hope somersaults towards her
a goofy kinky haired clown
He uses the breath of a nightingale
to place a winning lotto ticket
in her petal -thin hungry hand
And the stars are freewheeling the skies
with boogaloo poetics
And fountains of love flood the streets .
SPARKS FROM A SUITCASE
An impression of Column 258’s The Fritz Tapes
Electric jabs precede drums as the bass eases itself into being,
A song of alarums shattering into the day. Sourced from this is the call
of Ross Clifford’s stark warning: attend to Idaho and The Fritz Tapes,
From Column 258’s freshly formed moan and sway.
For this is the sound of the normal song redefining;
A mutant pop’s exhortation of the shadows and meanings of place,
Idaho as the opening song locates a dark landscape,
Where Tom Waits is a Tom cat in Column 258’s alleyway.
This band of night people split sleep as can be heard on Czu Holler.
Ross Clifford growls through the litter of untidy moons and lost blood.
The strings of Marc Ribot are aped by Clifford and guitarists Holly Finch
And AC Cooper, while bassists Nick Weekes and Keith Rodway
Reshape the rain in sound floods. Songs like this carve new charts
Behind surface glitter; as accepted taste becomes blander,
These flavours and sounds snag the throat. A suspicious suitcase
Is placed somewhere in this music, alluding perhaps to a story
And to the musician’s inverted dance in long coats.
Musicians are priests from The KLF back to Wakeman;
Here is a band’s broken story, glass in the ear, splintered dreams.
So it Goes begins as a snake, arcing through the head with intention,
A trace of Ian Curtis in reverb becomes a Brendan Perry sound stream.
Ryan Bollard’s thunderous drums are at once tasteful current,
As the song weaves and swelters in a kind of heat, the dark gleams.
A treated trumpet, pine cones, and the mysterious monotron
Is heard, distant, as this evolved ballad strokes the texture of night
With sharp claws. Soon that mood dissipates as distortion disappears
Before morning, as an ode to Johnny Cash and his meaning, is suddenly there
Before dawn. His presence conjured, twisted and warped by new country
Which has the same weight and swagger as the man in black on his throne.
The song listens out for iced winds and what the ‘ghost of Kerouac may have told us,’
As places and palaces settle, ‘jewelled crucifixes’ condemn him,
Along with amplified ‘beggar’s bones.’
Beginning in improvisation, these songs have the confidence of achievement,
They form their own solar system, their own column of stars in the sky.
Holly Finch’s ethereal voice and violin, within Seven, as the forebodings
Are sheltered by the shadows’ own cabal and cloud signs.
These thirty four minutes complete a new manifesto,
As evocative as Vini Reilly’s Durutti, Column 258 reshape song,
And with that attempt a bright world, glimpsed as the shimmer
And slice within lightning, that possibly reveals others watching
And their judgement on us, right and wrong.
The strings skitter and ghoul, Fritz Catlin’s mixology and green tea
Offer power. Amanda Thompson’ extra percussion,
Adds the stutter of shape and night spray.
Albums like this are the key;
The secret perhaps in the suitcase,
That we all want to open,
As these assaults on what’s real stain the day.
David Erdos 31/12/17
The Fritz Tapes is a series of improvised songs recorded in a single afternoon in October 2017 at the Hastings studio of Fritz Catlin, genius mixologist and founder member of legendary British industrial/post-punk/skewed funk/ band 23 Skidoo.
To buy the album on CD, please send £6.00 (which includes postage) by Paypal to email@example.com, and we’ll put your copy in the post.
Illustration Nick Victor
If you can, please make a donation to Compassion in World Farming today.
You could help campaigners keep up the pressure, support investigations exposing cruelty to farm animals, or give local activists a global voice to fight farm animal cruelty head-on.
Already, people like you have freed hundreds of millions of pigs, hens and calves from barren cages and crates. Already, over 1 billion animals a year are set to benefit from changes Compassion supporters have led in the world’s biggest food companies. Together we are a force to be reckoned with. And your gift will help even more farm animals to experience the joy of living. Thank you.
Queen’s income rises to £82million…
Prince Harry Meghan Markel wedding to cost £30milion
And the British public are STILL putting up with this.
The Petition to oppose the exclusion of nature words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary is here
Nature Words at the BBC
27 DEC 2017 — I hope everyone had a brilliant Christmas and Boxing Day. An early start for me this morning to beat the snow and get to BBC Radio Oxford to talk about this petition. We now have 109k supporters so it really seems people care about Nature, the environment and the importance of educating children to love their planet.
If you missed the radio show you may be able to catch it on this link
In the tradition of Andrew Sullivan’s Dish, we start the week–before it even gets a bit hectic–with a Mental Health break. Above, watch The Art of Flying, Jan van Ijken’s short film that captures the mysterious flights–or murmurations–of the Common Starling. A blurb accompanying the film adds a bit more context:
It is still unknown how the thousands of birds are able to fly in such dense swarms without colliding. Every night the starlings gather at dusk to perform their stunning air show. Because of the relatively warm winter of 2014/2015, the starlings stayed in the Netherlands instead of migrating southwards. This gave filmmaker Jan van IJken the opportunity to film one of the most spectacular and amazing natural phenomena on earth.
Also, over at janvanijken.com, you’ll find a longer seven-minute version of this film, featuring “wonderful close-ups and a spectacular final scene.” The €2,99 fee for watching that full-length film goes toward supporting van Ijken’s work as an independent filmmaker.
If you’d like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.
by Dan Colman
Jean Lecomte, CYMBELINE, NOMADS, Curtis Knight, Jacob Young and more.
Stoned Circus Radio Show – Garage & Psychedelia from all over the world (from the 60’s to the 00’s) Freak out the jam !
2-weekly SUNDAY 6:00 to 7:00 PM (Gmt +1 Paris).
The 60 minutes long show superbly highlights psychedelic music, garage punk, , mods, Rock’n’Roll, Rockabilly, punk rock, psychedelia, acid-rock, beat, r’n’b, soul & early funk, space-rock, exotic sounds with sitarfuzz from the 60’s to NOW !
www.stonedcircus.com (streaming, podcasts, playlist, records of the month)
STONED CIRCUS is NOW on RADIOLUX http://laradiolux.blogspot.fr/
If you want to send Stoned Circus materials for review
(vinyl, CD, digital download all welcome), please contact me
My teachers at school in England
never told me that America had a revolution.
They never quoted Winston Churchill
saying I do not admit, for instance,
that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America,
and none of them mentioned Siegfried Sassoon’s
letter expressing his belief that World War One
was being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power
to end it, and that it had become a war
of aggression and conquest. Instead, we learned
about Dr. Livingstone taking an English god
to the African jungle, said the Lord’s Prayer
each morning (although I only moved my lips),
and filed back to class past the Jewish boys
who came later to assembly after chanting
in their classroom ghetto. Nobody mentioned Ghandi.
Colonialisation was presented as a gift
to the uncivilised. We heard about Dunkirk
but not Dresden. My relatives in Austria
wouldn’t talk about the Nazis, except for one uncle
whose hand became a holy relic when Hitler
took hold of it, although he only talked about
the Autobahn system and omitted the rest.
We watched westerns until Apache was a word
as dirty as terrorist today. Propaganda became inseparable
from Communist, while American sitcoms
invaded us with visions of prosperity. My father
used to say There’ll never be another war
now they’ve got the bomb
and I looked forward to a world united, but couldn’t see
far enough to know that when it came that world
would fly corporate logos beside flags and spend so much
on weapons it would be wasteful not use them.
People cross its borders to find work instead of culture
and learn their history by experience
that clings to them like sweat stained shirts.
I was one of a generation
Who chewed through the leash.
Who ascertained the dose
and doubled it.
Who lived in anything that had a roof
and no rent.
Who took the time
to build community.
Who presented the alternative
to a mundane mainstream.
Who dried amphetamines
On a warm plate.
Who ran a mock
Who realigned purpose away from work
Who camped in freezing trees
To remind us we are of the world.
Who disregarded everything
They had ever been told.
Who took Ketamine
to do their own dentistry.
Who set up free festivals
refusing to apologise for living.
Who drove on LSD
danced all night and drove home.
Who smashed up jets
destined to bomb the innocent
Who snatched the box from Pandora
Who believed freedom
to be the only thing worth possessing.
b p r greenland
It’s easy to think that wassailing is some cozy wintertime tradition that’s fun for the whole family. After all, there’s a jaunty, wholesome Christmas carol about it! But the truth is, if you ever see a minor out wassailing, you may want to call his or her parents.
The word wassail has many meanings. For centuries, it was a way to toast someone’s good health. Before the Battle of Hastings in 1066, English soldiers reportedly sang:
Rejoice and wassail!
(Pass the bottle) and drink health.
Drink backwards and drink to me
Drink half and drink empty.
But, in England, wassail also denoted the alcoholic beverage you imbibed during that toast—an elixir of steamy mulled mead or cider. Sometimes, wassail was a whipped dark beer flavored with roasted crab apples.
Wassail was usually slurped from a communal bowl before, during, and after big events and holidays. It was supposedly on the menu during Lammas Day, a pagan autumnal harvest holiday that involves transforming cornhusks into dolls. It was also imbibed on Twelfth Night, a January holiday that involves lighting a fire in an orchard, dancing, and singing incantations to apple trees in hopes of encouraging a bountiful harvest.
By the Middle Ages, the practice of sharing a giant bowl of wassail—that is, the practice of wassailing—evolved from a holiday celebration to a form of boozy begging. “At Christmastide, the poor expected privileges denied them at other times, including the right to enter the homes of the wealthy, who feasted them from the best of their provisions,” Robert Doares, an instructor at Colonial Williamsburg, explained. The poor would either ask to sip from their rich neighbor’s wassailing bowl or would bring their own bowl, asking for it to be filled. According to Doares, “At these gatherings, the bands of roving wassailers often performed songs for the master while drinking his beer, toasting him, his family, his livestock, wishing continued health and wealth.” The original lyrics of Here We Come a-Wassailing are quite upfront about what’s going on:
We are not daily beggars
That beg from door to door
But we are neighbours’ children
Whom you have seen before.
Not all rich folk were happy to see wassailers at their doorstep. One 17th century polymath, John Selden, complained about “Wenches … by their Wassels at New-years-tide … present you with a Cup, and you must drink of the slabby stuff; but the meaning is, you must give them Moneys.”
Misers like Selden may have had a point: Since alcohol was involved, wassailers often got too rowdy. “Drunken bands of men and boys would take to the streets at night, noise-making, shooting rifles, making ‘rough music,’ and even destroying property as they went among the wealthy urban homes,” wrote Hannah Harvester, formerly the staff folklorist at Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. In fact, boisterous wassailers are one reason why Oliver Cromwell and Long Parliament passed an ordinance in 1647 that essentially banned Christmas.
By the 19th century, wassailing would mellow. Beginning in the 1830s, music publishers started releasing the first commercial Christmas carols, uncorking classics such as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and The First Noel. Among them were dozens of wassailing songs, including the circa 1850 Here We Come a-Wassailing and dozens of others that are now, sadly, forgotten. As the custom of caroling became the dominant door-to-door pastime, alcohol-fueled begging dwindled. By the turn of the 20th century, carolers were more likely to sing about libations than actually drink them.
But if you’re interested in engaging in some good, old-fashioned wassailing, the original lyrics to Here We Come a-Wassailing are a helpful guide. For starters, ask for beer.
Our wassail cup is made
Of the rosemary tree,
And so is your beer
Of the best barley.
Don’t be shy! Keep asking for that beer.
Call up the butler of this house,
Put on his golden ring.
Let him bring us up a glass of beer,
And better we shall sing.
Remind your audience that, hey, this is the season of giving. Fork it over.
We have got a little purse
Of stretching leather skin;
We want a little of your money
To line it well within.
Screw it. You’ve sung this far. Go for it all, go for the gold, go for … their cheese.
Bring us out a table
And spread it with a cloth;
Bring us out a mouldy cheese,
And some of your Christmas loaf.
Thirsty for your own wassail? Stock up on sherry and wine and try this traditional recipe from The Williamsburg Cookbook.