-- George Ayittey on the BBC, September 20, 2009.
-- George Ayittey on the BBC, September 20, 2009.
The story begins at a student runway showing, where Linsday is looking on:
Lindsay, it should be noted, has no hands to clap and no feet on which to get up. She had them back in the summer of 2007, when she was tall and thin and had just graduated from VCU with a fashion merchandising degree. Then, to use her words, a blur. When she entered Henrico Doctors' Hospital that summer, the procedure to remove a small piece of inflamed intestine, a nagging complication of her Crohn's disease, was supposed to go routinely. But supposed to go routinely rarely turns out well, and there hasn't been a routine day in Lindsay's life ever since. Not since the leak, not since the sepsis, not since the organ failures, the brain seizures, and not since the coma. Definitely not the coma. Not since one day in August turned to October and then drifted on towards Christmas. Certainly not since the quadruple amputations, the cruel coda to having been so close to death all those months and then surviving. Oh, honey, you know what they're going to do, right? the nurse said. There's no routine to being bathed and fed and dressed like a child mere months after you've graduated college, and no routine to learning how to walk again at the age of twenty-five. No routine in continuing a long-distance relationship with someone who admits to having originally been smitten by your looks, or to being with your mother almost every waking hour. There's no routine for taking a fistful of pills a day--the Pentasa, the Entocort EC, the Lexapro, the Keppra, the Urosidol, the Spiranolactone, the Zolpidem, the Lyrica, not to mention the occasional shot of actual alcohol. There's no routine, no manual, for wishing you were whole again, so that just one morning of your life you could actually wake up and make it to the bathroom on your own, even if the arms and legs you now covet so are made of acrylic and not skin and bone and muscle. And, perhaps most of all, no routine for the long, slow realization that those acrylic arms and legs might not, in the end, be the answer to anything. If you're Lindsay Ess, routine pretty much stopped on August 3, 2007.The Lessons of Lindsay (story) Sports Shooter Q & A: with Matt Mendelsohn (chat with the photographer).
(Sports Shooter, via @Glennf)
The most creative guy I knew in high school was this kid Ba Blackstock. He drew hilarious cartoons, directed theatrical adaptations of Dan Clowes comics and made crazy short movies.
Later, he spent years of his life making this cartoon. He went old-school, penciling by hand over a light board (he's entirely self-taught). Then he inked and colored it and added 3D stuff digitally. Of course, he nearly lost his mind in the process.
The resulting cartoon speaks for itself.
NOTE: this is just one chapter. I recommend watching the whole 14 minute thing (link.)
Here's a scanned copy of an interview with the recently-departed punk poet icon Jim Carroll, by Joseph Menn in the Boston Globe. The article is not available anywhere online, and it's a fascinating read, so I'm glad Joe scanned it and published to Flickr.
Joe says, "[The interview took place] in person, at a Boston hotel in 1987. He was an amazing mix of imaginative power at work and straight-up stoner dude. He talked about how when he was in heroin withdrawal, the images he wanted would pile up uselessly like parked cars, then move too fast for him to catch, as in Koyanisqaatsi. But first he saw the chocolate on his pillow and said, 'Man, I could dig THAT later!'"
Previously on BB: The great punk poet Jim Carroll has died.
Glen E. Friedman, a photographer who chronicled the birth of skate culture, shares sad news:
If skateboarding was a town, this guy was its mayor. Andy Kessler, one of the good ones, died yesterday apparently of an allergic reaction from a wasp sting that led to a heart attack. This was a great dude, NO ONE could say anything wrong about this dude.Above, a portrait of Kessler around 1976 or 1977 which Glen says was among the skater's favorite.
He was one of the oldest, if not the oldest, skater in New York City, holding it down, real since the 70's. Andy will be seriously missed by many including myself. Obituaries and discussion threads: ESPN, bulldogskates, newyorksurf, bulldogskates 2.
Another striking portrait, skating the streets of Manhattan, here.
After the jump: a 2007 video interview. Kessler immediately strikes you as a gentle, thoughtful person -- who could shred like nobody. Read the rest
Read the rest
Snip from an essay by artist Michaela Melián on Hedy Lemarr, the Austrian-born American scientist and actress who was once described as the most beautiful woman in the world by MGM's Louis B. Mayer. Art Fag City Editor Paddy Johnson says, "Not only was she the first actress to simulate an orgasm onscreen in 1933, but her frequency-switching device (now known as frequency hopping) developed with partner George Antheil, is the technology upon with cell phones are built."
Melián assembled this online essay for Art Fag City's annual IMG MGMT which, in which artists are invited to curate image essays on the blog. She also wrote a score to accompany the old school style slide show, which is embedded in the post.
Image above: Michaela Melián, Frequency Hopping, 2008, C-print, watercolor, thread, 35 x 28 cm.
In her ex-husband's Salzburg villa, the immigrant had seen plans for remote controlled torpedoes, which were never built because the radio controls proved to be too unreliable. After the outbreak of the Second World War, she worked on practical ideas to effectively fight the Hitler regime. At a party in Hollywood, Lamarr met George Antheil, an avant-garde composer who also wrote film scores. While playing the piano with the composer, the actress suddenly has an important idea for her torpedo control system. Antheil sets up the system on 88 frequencies, as this number corresponds to the number of keys on a piano. To construct it, he employs something similar to the player piano sheet music that he used in his Ballet Mécanique.IMG MGMT: Life As A Woman, Hedy Lamarr (Art Fag City)
In December 1940, the frequency-switching device developed by Lamarr and Antheil was sent to the National Inventors' Council. A patent was awarded on August 11, 1942. The two inventors leave it to the American military to figure out how to use the device. Lamarr's and Antheil's Secret Communication System disappears into the U.S. Army's filing cabinets.
Finally, in 1962, as the Cuba crisis brews the technology now known as frequency hopping is put to use. Its purpose is not to control torpedoes, but to allow for safe communications among blockading ships - whereupon the principles behind the patent become part of fundamental U.S. military communications technology. Today, this technology is not only the foundation for the U.S. military's satellite defense system, but also used widely in the private sector, particularly for cordless and mobile telephones.
We covered Doug Fine's radical off-the-grid lifestyle experiment last year on Boing Boing TV -- embed above. He is the author of Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living, and he's still going strong out there on the Funky Butte Ranch. When he's not out in the fields turning the compost heap or feeding chickens, he's working on his next book, which I'm looking forward to reading. Doug has a thought-provoking piece out in this Sunday's Washington Post Outlook section, here's a preview:
I have a fiancee and a son to provide for, so I decided to take a hard look at our prospects for survival if our consumer safety nets went away. For now, my green lifestyle choices at my remote 41-acre outpost in the American Southwest are optional. You know, growing lettuce instead of buying Chilean. Using organic cotton diapers instead of buying Pampers. But what if one morning in, say, 2049, I wake up to milk my goats and find out that supplies are no longer streaming in from China and California? What would I do if both box stores and crunchy food co-ops suddenly were no more? In other words, I'm examining my place in a hypothetical post-oil, post-consumer society 40 years in the future.On My Ranch, Ready for the Great American Meltdown (Washington Post)
Now, I'm not rooting for such a thing. Slave labor, forest depletion, climate change and global resource wars aside, globalization has a lot going for it. I love that I can email a musician in Mauritania and ask to download his latest album. And anyway, lots of people still see globalization as the economic model for the foreseeable future. But when I was covering the former Soviet Union as a journalist in the 1990s, every single person I met told me that they'd thought pigs would fly before the Politburo crumbled.
Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who directed and filmed the documentary "Leaving Fear Behind" (excerpt embedded above) has been charged with "inciting separatism" and is awaiting trial in Siling in eastern Tibet (Chinese: Xining, Qinghai Province). The Chinese government will not allow his lawyers to represent him, so there is not much hope for a fair trial.
Supporters are urging people to take action, by sending a letter to Wu Aiying, China's Minister of Justice and Zhang Yesui, China's Ambassador to the United Nations, demanding Dhondup Wangchen's immediate and unconditional release.
Dhondup Wangchen has been detained since March 2008 and has suffered torture and ill-treatement at the hands of the Chinese authorities. He is being targeted for simply exercising his right to freedom of expression, and the charges against him are part of the Chinese government's widespread campaign to punish and silence Tibetan voices of dissent.(via Students for a Free Tibet)
Image above: Natalya Estemirova, courtesy Human Rights Watch. The following guest essay was written by Jasmina Tešanović. Full text of essay continues after the jump, along with links to previous works by her shared on Boing Boing. See also this related New York Times piece, written by a journalist who knew Ms. Estemirova.
On 15 July Natalya Estemirova, 50, was kidnapped and murdered by unknown assailants in the Chechen capital Grozny. The mother-of-one worked for the human rights organisation Memorial and was a close friend of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, also murdered in 2006.
A human rights activist is killed like a dog, executed, dumped and humiliated in front of the eyes of a million people, who know that what she was saying was true, right, honest and proper.
Because, you see, WE ALL DO KNOW THAT. Good and bad guys know Natalya was telling the truth, in Russia, in Chechnya, in US in Europe. And yet we all stay silent about her death. Most of us turn the head the other way, as if it is none of our business, as if it is inevitable, as if it were somebody else's world.
Presidents sometimes say: a serious inquiry should be done in this case. Violence on journalists is not permitted. How could they say otherwise? Today when words count almost nothing compared to the escalating violence, to the human annihilation.
Where are the movie stars, those celebrities who adopt poor children, sing songs in the deserts, catwalk all the politically correct arenas? Why don't the superstars for once raise their voice and protect ONE peaceful human rights activist -- who in her or his life has done more than the whole constellation of stars shining from their heaven on the global poor? Read the rest
Read the rest
An amazing piece by Borzou Daragahi, in Tehran, from today's LA Times on the life and death of Neda Agha-Soltan (shown above in a family photo). Her death, documented on cellphone video and spread online, has become a potent spiritual emblem for the popular uprising in Iran.
The first word came from abroad. An aunt in the United States called her Saturday in a panic. "Don't go out into the streets, Golshad," she told her. "They're killing people."Family, friends mourn Iranian woman whose death was caught on video (via @eecue)
The relative proceeded to describe a video, airing on exile television channels that are jammed in Iran, in which a young woman is shown bleeding to death as her companion calls out, "Neda! Neda!"
A dark premonition swept over Golshad, who asked that her real name not be published. She began calling the cellphone and home number of her friend Neda Agha-Soltan who had gone to the chaotic demonstration with a group of friends, but Neda didn't answer.
At midnight, as the city continued to smolder, Golshad drove to the Agha-Soltan residence in the eastern Tehran Pars section of the capital. As she heard the cries and wails and praising of God reverberating from the house, she crumpled, knowing that her worst fears were true. "Neda! Neda!" the 25-year-old cried out. "What will I do?"
Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, was shot dead Saturday evening near the scene of clashes between pro-government militias and demonstrators who allege rampant vote-count fraud in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The jittery cellphone video footage of her bleeding on the street has turned "Neda" into an international symbol of the protest movement that ignited in the aftermath of the June 12 voting. To those who knew and loved Neda, she was far more than an icon. She was a daughter, sister and friend, a music and travel lover, a beautiful young woman in the prime of her life.
- Iran Election Crisis: 10 Significant Web Videos
- Social Media in Iran: Lessons Learned (Ethan Zuckerman)
- Iranian election uprising: Twitter tracks it real-time, Iranian ...
- Lazyweb: turn the new version of Opera into an unstoppable grid of ...
- Twitter reschedules maintenance to avoid clobbering Iranian ...
- Iran Elections Crisis: Online Reading List - Boing Boing
- Iran SMS networks "mysteriously" fail right before elections ...
- Iran: Activists Launch Hack Attacks on Tehran Regime - Boing Boing
- Iran: Tim Shey on Observing Social Unrest Online at 32000 feet ...
- Super-filtered #IranElection info for the easily overwhelmed
- Cyberwar Guide for Iran Elections
- Neda (warning: graphic video)
Miles "Intergalactic Space Badass" O'Brien, whose work we've been featuring as a guest contributor on Boing Boing Video, has a must-read piece at True Slant about the recent end of NASA's mission to repair/upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Hubble Repair Missions. After all, I cut my teeth on the space beat covering the legendary STS-61 mission in December 1993 - the first, the most dramatic - and certainly the most important - of the five astronaut telescope calls now inscribed in the space history books.The Hubble Constant: High Interest (True Slant)
So I must confess I am a bit wistful - even a little misty - now that it is all over. We will no longer have the good fortune to witness the live drama of human beings pushing the envelope of impossibility to improve a machine that pushes the boundaries of our understanding of the universe.
Over the years, sixteen Mr. Starwrenches finessed, improvised - and sometimes used brute force - to fix what ailed Hubble - or make it better. It was Reality TV for the Space Cadet Nation.
Image: "The Ten Billion Dollar Man - Last Shuttle-eye view of Hubble."
In today's Boing Boing Video (brought to you in part by WEPC.com), director Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow , Black Snake Moan ) talks to us about his latest project: the MTV online series $5 Cover, which chronicles the internet-age lives and dreams of struggling musicians in Memphis, Tennessee.
$5 Cover is described as "a rough-and-tumble show set in the clubs, bars, and all-night cafes of present-day Memphis," and follows "young musicians as they fight for love, inspiration, and money to pay the rent." These are real people, but this is not reality schlock.
When I first saw clips of the series in production during a visit to the MTV offices, I knew it was going to be great. I grew up an MTV teen, but am not generally a fan of MTV's present-day on-air programming. I've felt for some time like the network no longer produced stuff I'd find interesting.
But this is different. Maybe part of what allowed something this authentic and engaging to incubate at MTV is the fact that this is primarily an online series.
And then there's the fact that Brewer is at the helm. I'm a big fan of his big-screen work, and he clearly loves the stories at the heart of $5 Cover -- the lives and art of musicians who are his own community, in Memphis.
Boing Boing asked Brewer how the internet is changing what it means to be an independent artist, and how technology is changing the nature of what "local music" means. He talks to us about why he created the show, how this is different than directing for film or television, and why all of this matters so much to him.
When MTV sent us a DVD of the completed episodes, Boing Boing Video's editor and I watched them all, back to back, and then vowed to buy some of the music online. I'm not kidding, it's that great. We went particularly nuts about Amy Lavere, an artist featured in the first part of the Boing Boing Video episode. She's from Memphis, by way of TX and Louisiana. Al Kapone was another personal fave.
More about $5 Cover: New episodes premiere Friday nights at midnight on MTV and at Fivedollarcover.com throughout May. There are mini-documentaries about what went on in each week's episode here, and Flipside Memphis gives you an even deeper dive into the Memphis culture. The entire video series, along with music videos and other related video, is available on iTunes for download to own. The soundtrack is available digitally through services including iTunes and Rhapsody, and I've been googling my way to the artists' websites and myspaces and discovering lots more on my own.
RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Special thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic)
Sponsor shout-out: Boing Boing Video is brought to you in part by WEPC.com, in partnership with Intel and Asus. WePC.com is a site where users come together to "share ideas, images and inspiration about the ideal PC." Participants' designs, feature ideas and community feedback will be evaluated by ASUS and "could influence the blueprint for an actual notebook PC built by ASUS with Intel inside."
So, what is it like to see industrial music legends Throbbing Gristle perform live?
"Next closest thing to an internal organ massage standing next to [SRL's] V1 pulsejet engine," said BB pal Karen Marcelo, after one of the dates on the band's 2009 reunion tour. "It was like my diaphragm resonated until my lungs became a subwoofer while words once from a man's mouth sprung from the same woman's mouth," twittered TG trufan T.Bias.
Before we shot the Boing Boing Video interview which is today's episode, above, Richard Metzger and I spoke to Throbbing Gristle's sound technician backstage, and asked what we should expect in the way of sub-bass frequencies -- rumored to be so powerful during performances that cameras can't hold a steady shot, and bowels sometimes can't hold their contents. Charlie Poulet, TG's sound tech, cracked up and flashed an evil grin.
"Oh, we got some frequencies," he laughed, "Yeah, we definitely got some frequencies ready for you people tonight."
Those "frequencies" are part of what make TG's music so transcendental and disturbing, and in the BB interview with Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson, and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, we explore their technical and creative underpinnings.
We learn about the hacked-together synth and sound modification machines built back in the early 1970s, like "Thee Gristleizer," shown below.
We hear TG members talk about the sort of mind-meld trance they all fall in to while performing, and we learn about the early days of recording work like "Hamburger Lady" to cassette tapes, then walking down to have a hamburger together at a corner sandwich shop down the street from their old studio in what was then a really shitty part of London.
Gen talks about her first time with Twitter, and we hear what it's like for the band once called "wreckers of civilization" to be celebrated, more than 30 years later, as living legends.
Information on TG's remaining 2009 tour dates here. Industrial Records just released a special limited edition framed vinyl LP to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of Throbbing Gristle's debut album, "The Second Annual Report" -- more info here. More recordings (digital and otherwise), t-shirts, and other merch are here.
RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Special thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic, and to Target Video, who shot some of the archival clips shown in this episode).
Previously on Boing Boing: Throbbing Gristle: What A Day. (Boing Boing Video shoot notes)
Maggie Koerth-Baker is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. A freelance science and health journalist, Maggie lives in Minneapolis, brain dumps on Twitter, and writes quite often for mental_floss magazine.
Note: No Mormons are mocked in the making of this posting.
In a Linda Richman-esque turn of events, Mormon crickets are neither Mormon, nor crickets. In reality, they're katydids whose religious proclivities (if any) remain unknown. The bugs' association with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints comes from stories told by early Mormon settlers in Utah about how thousands of the creatures swarmed in to devastate crops before being miraculously stopped by the arrival of a pack of ravenous seagulls. God worked in mysterious ways.
And continues to do so, apparently. Mormon crickets are still a periodic threat to farmers out west. Every so often (possibly prompted by weather patterns, but nobody's exactly sure), millions of Mormon crickets will band together into a pack--dense as 100 bugs per square meter--and march forward, devouring every scrap of plant life in their path. The flood of bugs can be nigh-on impossible to staunch. Besides eating up crops and lawns, they've been known to stop traffic, and come stomping right through people's homes. Discover magazine's Discoblog quotes a resident of Tuscarora, Nevada:
You'll wake up and there'll be one sitting on your forehead, looking at you
And you thought the scutigera coleoptrata was bad.
But the townsfolk of Tuscarora have found a Mormon cricket defense system almost as miraculous as the bugicidal seagull brigade. They blast the pests with rock. Yes, much like Manuel Noriega, the Tuscarorans claim Mormon crickets can be beaten into submission via thrashing guitar solos. According to Discoblog, entomologists aren't sure why this works, or even if it actually does. Although, if bugs really don't like Led Zeppelin, that would explain why my house was suddenly pest free that summer the neighbor kid spent learning "Smoke on the Water".
Interestingly, Mormon crickets have also invaded Washington D.C. political discourse. According to the Washington Post, a $1 million earmark, meant to help farmers protect their livelihoods from the all-devouring Mormon cricket masses, has been publicly mocked as unnecessary pork by none other than John McCain's Twitter account, which asked:
Is that the species of cricket or a game played by the brits?
(Snapshots from the BBV Throbbing Gristle shoot by Chris Cooper).
Earlier this week, Boing Boing Video and Richard Metzger shot an interview with art-damage/industrial music godfathers Throbbing Gristle in Los Angeles. They're on a limited tour of the USA, with a show tonight in San Francisco, and dates scheduled in Chicago and Brooklyn (info on dates, venues, and tickets here).
The resulting BB Video is yet to come, but I wanted to share some notes, photos, and ephemera from the experience.
Metzger is a super-mega-otaku fan of TG, and covered their legacy extensively through Disinfo publications and video releases. My knowledge is nowhere near as comprehensive as his (he's even stumped TG members with knowledge of early songs they've forgotten!). But I have been fascinated with them since I was a teenager, when a friend in a punk squat loaned me a beer-stained copy of V. Vale's 1983 RE/Search book about industrial culture.
When I phoned TG's manager Paul Smith on Monday to ask for permission to shoot for Boing Boing Video, I explained that I believed TG were the cultural ancestors for much of the "mutant" culture we explore here on Boing Boing. Sappy but sincere. Without their early experiments in nihilistic machine song we would not have "industrial music." The projects that split off when TG first disbanded -- Chris And Cosey, Coil, Psychic TV -- only expanded their cultural footprint. Countless acts owe them a huge genetic debt -- everyone from Einsturzende Neubauten to Skinny Puppy to NIN to Aphex Twin to Radiohead to every other act you're likely to type in the comments.
COUM Transmissions, the experimental performance art collective which preceded Throbbing Gristle, was responsible for legendary shock-events so extreme, they'd make Tubgirl, Goatse, and the Two Girls with One Cup blush.
The TG show we witnessed (and shot for BBV) this week reflects less of that shock, anger, and taboo-bombing, and was almost entirely instrumental. More moody, doom-y, Faustian. But the physically overwhelming sounds "took the meat off the bones," as Metzger put it. And it was fucking amazing.
"These people are the wreckers of civilisation", said conservative Member of Parliment Nicholas Fairbairn back in 1976. He was talking about Throbbing Gristle. During the BBV interview, we talked about what it's like to go from being "wreckers" of culture to being celebrated as cultural heroes. We talked about Twitter and Flickr. Gen asked what the difference is between blogs and websites, and announced s/he'd recently acquired her first Blackberry.
Ruth has some snapshots of the shoot and the soundcheck here. TG member Chris Carter is on Twitter here, and his photos are on Flickr here -- don't miss this incredible photoset of historic "lost and found" TG photos. TG member Cosey Fanni Tutti is on Twitter here. Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is here. And Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson is here.
Some archival interviews I've been reading and re-reading, as we edit the interview: This one with Cosey, about her art and her explorations of the sex trade (for her, one and the same). And this amazing interview purportedly from 1978, by an Australian reporter for NME, which was apparently never published in NME. This article in Artlurker by Federico Nessi. And this review of a box set in Artforum.
Thee Boing Boing Video episode(s) are "coum-ing" soon.
(Special thanks to Richard Metzger, to Boing Boing Video's production crew, and friends who helped along the way: Ehrich Blackhound, Ruth Waytz, Chris Cooper, Jason Louv, Suzan Jones, and Greg Chong, to name a few. Very special thanks to Paul Smith, and to the members of Throbbing Gristle).
- Throbbing Gristle and Derek Jarman - Boing Boing
- Listen Today: 24 hours of Throbbing Gristle - Boing Boing
- Genesis Breyer P-Orridge's copyright pants - Boing Boing
- Brion Gysin biography and a Disinformation event in NYC - Boing Boing
- Psychic TV turned on again - Boing Boing
- Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge of Psychic TV, RIP
Wang Hongwen went to see Marshal Zhu De, requesting him to hand over power. "You may take over, but only if you can make this egg stand upright," Zhu said, while handling him an egg.Jokes from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) (Part One)
After trying for several days, Wang was still unable to make it stand, so he went to see Deng Xiaoping for help.
"This is easy," said Deng, and he forcefully smashed the egg down into the table.
"Ai ya, it broke!" Wang exclaimed.
"Chairman Mao has said, 'nothing can stand without destruction,'" said Deng, "look, isn't the egg standing upright now?"
Translator's notes: The phrase "nothing can stand without destruction" was a revolutionary slogan that encouraged destruction of old, feudal things.