Ever wonder how your menthols achieved that alluring tingle? It's likely the blood of the penguin proletariat. This 1935 cartoon follows a group of penguins as they are chased out of their abysmal natural habitat and into the safe haven of the Kool cigarette factory in Kentucky where they blissfully toil their days away to make cigs and deliver them to the people all across this great nation.
2007 almost made me care about sports because that was the year that Prince played the Super Bowl. Though his crew was assured that it hadn't rained at the Super Bowl in 40 years and not to worry about it, lo and behold, they woke up on the morning of the game to a brutal tropical storm. Threat of electrocution be damned, Prince just threw on a cute do-rag and utterly killed it, playing epic guitar solos on a live guitar while being battered by wind and rain. His back-up dancers kept it moving too, pretending like they weren't about to plummet to their deaths dancing on 8- inch heels on the slick tile stage while he blasted through "Let's Go Crazy".
Can you imagine being in the crowd for this? I die.
"That Prince set is so wild. He does other people's songs, he's not promoting himself. He's just making music. It's profound and it's loud and it's funky and it's just one performer, shaking the entire world."– Jon Pareles, New York Times
I'd heard stories of "The Vats" in San Francisco for decades.
It was an abandoned Falstaff Brewery that had become a show space and scum condo in the early '80s, with a dozen punks living on top of each other, some of them even paying rent.
There were four floors full of these vats, with about 12 kids living in each one. The entrance to each unit was the small hole that had been used to clean the tanks back when it was a functioning brewery, although a few had bigger holes smashed in them in order to fit band equipment inside.
I was young enough to have missed this punk landmark and it was torn down in 1983. I thought I would never see them at all until I stumbled across this old Pop-o-Pies video on YouTube that provides an incredible tour of some of the different rooms, copious amounts of shitty graffiti, punks popping out of holes, and even a bonus shot of the old Hunt's Donuts "Open 25 Hours" neon sign. It is truly glorious.
There's something about the McDonald's characters that ring all of my bells. A purple blob with a shake habit, a politician with an oversized burger head, a Greek chorus of adorable processed chicken bits – all are deeply pleasing to me. And what's up with those names? Grimace, Hamburglar, Captain Crook. It's a true testament to the power of advertising, a calculated blend of nostalgia, camp, and iconography, that could make my vegetarian ass still want to camp out in the hamburger patch spooning a Fry Guy forever.
Filming in McDonaldland is a gallery on social media compiled by a former art director from Needham, Harper, and Steers, the ad agency responsible for inventing McDonaldland in the '70s (with help from Sid & Marty Krofft). These collections offer a rare glimpse at the behind-the-scenes puppetry, forgotten characters (like Uncle O'Grimacey and Vulture), concept sketches, and other ephemera from 1970 – 2001 that made shilling burgers seem like so much fun. Why couldn't this have been my life?
Cartoonist and illustrator Adrian Tomine has been at the top of his game and pulling out all kinds of surprises lately. For this Friday's Day of Remembrance, he is offering a limited edition print with an extraordinary personal history.
"In 1942, Dorothea Lange took a photo of my grandmother right before she and my grandfather were incarcerated for four years in U.S. government segregation camps. My mom was born and spent the first two years of her life in these camps. In honor of Day of Remembrance (the date on which President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066), I've created an illustration based on Lange's iconic photo."via Adrian Tomine's Instagram
Proceeds from this signed and numbered limited edition print will benefit Tsuru for Solidarity, an immigrant and refugee advocacy group co-founded by Tomine's mom, Satsuki Ina.
Disney+'s Avengers spin-off series WandaVision features a new sitcom homage and theme song (written by the Frozen songwriting duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez) each week. Past episodes have offered a nod to television history stalwarts including The Brady Bunch, Bewitched, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. This week's episode brings viewers into the '90s with a Malcolm in the Middle styled episode intro and theme song sung by riot grrrl luminary Kathleen Hanna.
Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez is director Susan Stern's tribute to her late husband, underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a joy-riding, fist-fighting, juvenile delinquent who grew up to be a socially conscious bad ass cartoonist who stayed in touch with his biker roots. He contributed to underground papers, High Times, and various anthologies through the '60s and '70s and is probably most widely known for his work in the Zap comix anthology alongside Crumb and S. Clay Wilson. He produced graphic novels including a biography of Che Guevara and an autobiographical collection called Cruising with the Hound.
Some of his recurring characters included Trashman, a defender of the working class in a dystopian America, and Big Bitch, an oversexed gumshoe who also hates The Man. Some contemporary viewers might be unable to reconcile his social justice and class struggle stories with a couple of his other stories that contain sexist and homophobic violence, but it's all here for the viewer to think through in context and come to their own conclusions.
You can watch Bad Attitude, as well as the entire 2021 Slamdance slate of films, through February 25th with a $10 festival pass.
Video essayist Jacob T. Swinney has a knack for contextualizing movies in inventive ways, inviting us to notice pieces we may have otherwise missed. One of my favorites is his "First and Final Frames" series, where he places the opening shot and the end shot of films side-by-side in a meditation on themes.
After constructing a fortress of takeout containers around my laptop, I was ready for the virtual tour of San Francisco Chinatown neon signs this Wednesday evening. Established in 1848, San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest in North America. It's a longtime tourist favorite that has never been co-opted and continues to retain everything that makes it special: language, identity, culture, traditions, and an influential and fascinating history. And then, of course, there's the amazing architecture, alleyways, and signage.
The virtual tour was conducted by historic sign preservationists SF Neon and benefitted the Chinese Historical Society. The presentation was cool and covered the history as well as the engineering behind various vintage neon pieces. it was especially great seeing process photos of the Lipo Lounge sign being rehabbed, one of my all-time favorite signs in the neighborhood (whose history included basement punk shows for a time in the 90s/00s). However, the most interesting sign in the presentation was not the most flashy (the building's more recent owners painted over it, *cry*), but whose recent beige camouflage belied a fascinating hidden history.
The immigration process for Chinese family members coming into San Francisco was rigorous and ridiculous. Some of the questions were standard citizenship questions, and others feigned to confirm your identity by asking questions like "How many stairs do you have in your house?"and comparing the answer with a family member, according to the Angel Island Immigration Station website. Do you know how many stairs are in your house? I don't. Immigrants were detained on Angel Island and kept from communicating with family members who might help coach them with their answers. To get around this, the community set up a system. At the Ginn Hardware Store on Grant Street, neighbors would leave messages for detained family members taped underneath the lids of teapots at the hardware store. Then Chinese kitchen staff working on Angel Island would bring the notes into the facility and stealthily pass them off to the intended recipient.
"Most often they were passed at mealtimes to the table closest to the kitchen where the association's officers sat. A waiter, for example, would serve an added dish of food and say ga choi (Cantonese for "added dish") or some similar phrase. This would be a signal to look for a hidden message which another could later deliver to the addressee."via Found SF
The Ginn Hardware Store is now closed and the sign obscured. SF Neon and other advocates are working towards having a plaque erected to commemorate the perseverance of early Chinese immigrants and this unique contribution to San Francisco history.
If you want to catch Part Two of the neon sign tour, sign up here, and be sure to leave a donation to the Chinese Historical Society.
Headexplodie, otherwise known as Oakland-based artist Annie Wong, has been cooking up weirdness in her stop motion studio for over a decade. Her creations are undeniably adorable, even when they're oozing, barfing, or shaped like poop. Though I love it all, I'm especially fond of her Ovary Actions GIF series, Wong's project designed to combat period stigma with help from an angry uterus, a friendly maxi pad blob, and a diva cup surfing a crimson wave.
When I joined Annie's Patreon recently, I was not expecting much beyond supporting an artist that I like, but her Patreon game is strong! Imagine my surprise when I received a package in the mail from Headexplodie HQ containing a sticker set, enamel uterus pin, and a mini tub of homemade glitter slime with eyeballs, complete with home care instructions and a baggie of Borax. A far better pet than any trifling Sea Monkey packet I ever ordered out of the back of a comic book.
Werner Herzog has just been introduced to his first skateboarding video by Jenkem Magazine and reacts exactly how you'd expect the grizzly-battling, steamboat-dragging director would, sussing out the poetry in watching people eat shit over and over again. "On the 6th time they fail…on the 30th time, they fail," he muses in his inimitable German accent. "So many failures, it's astonishing, yes."
When asked what soundtrack he would use if he were to direct his own skate video, he answers Russian Orthodox church choirs. "Something that creates this strange feeling of space and sacrality. What they are doing is bordering on the sacred".
The Hawaii International Film Festival is hosting an online Director's Cut screening of seven of Wong Kar Wai's best works, recently treated to a 4K restoration by Janus Films. I can't think of a better escape right now than to hole up and binge the moody, cool, and visually stunning work of Kar Wai. If you've never seen his work and only want to dip a toe in, start with either Chungking Express or In the Mood for Love.
The films are available to screen throughout February.
You probably know Cheech Marin as one half of pot humor trailblazers Cheech and Chong, but did you also know that he is a serious art patron? Marin possesses one of the largest collections of Chicano art in the U.S. and has been on a mission to increase the visibility of Mexican American artists in the art world for years. Last week, Marin came one step closer to realizing his vision when the city of Riverside finally approved plans to open The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture, and Industry in the former city library building.
"This is exciting because American art museums have not been collecting art in this area at all," says Arlene Davila, a professor of anthropology at New York University. "This is a big gap in the American art history canon, and it has to do with an essential racism. This collection helps to institutionalize an important area in American art. Museums can't just do a Frida Kahlo show and think they're done,"via Artnet
Netonia Yalte built her first handmade house out of necessity. She was a single mother of three, living in poverty on Canada's Graham Island, so she set about building a house herself made with materials scavenged from the beach.
She taught herself about stackwall building, also called cordwood construction, a natural roundhouse technique that involves stacking logs crosswise and securing with mortar or cob.
That first home was constructed 26 years ago, and she hasn't stopped building since. Her structures are works of art, made with colored glass, whale bones, cedar, and driftwood. She has built over 30 structures including outhouses, gazebos, and a wind wall. Each one is unique; she never repeats the same design twice.
Hear Yalte tell her own story on CBC radio.
Mary Lou Retton could never. On the heels of her jaw-dropping gymnastics floor routine set to Beyonce that broke the internet last year, UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis has done it again. Dennis' performance infuses gymnastics with odes to Black culture, including a soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, and Missy Elliot, working in a power fist, the Superman, and the woah, between triple flips and the splits. If this video does not fill you with glee, you may be dead inside.
The small-but-mighty beaded lacewing larva wields silent-but-deadly flatulence to turn the tables on would-be predators.
"When a larva comes across some termites, it raises its rear-end to the termite's head-height and releases a vapor-phase toxicant called an allomone which knocks them out, and the larva feasts on their frozen bodies. In essence, it farts them to death. Depending on how many unfortunate termites are downwind when the toxic toot fires off, a study found that the larva can actually take down multiple termites with a single poof."via IFL Science