The First Rule Of Scientology Club Is…

Unlike many, I have no particular quibbles with Scientology. In terms of belief their particular brand of lunacy is no more abhorrent than omnipotent bearded men, elephant-headed deities, or reincarnation. There is something intrinsically modern about Scientology’s aliens and space-faring DC-3s. It is a a belief system with a mythology that could only have been invented by an author of science fiction. No other person would have that complete a vision or be willing to go so far beyond the pale. In that regard it is no surprise that the likes of Anonymous have pursued the organization as it has. They are, after all, infringing on prime geek territory.

In keeping with that same tone, Scientology has started a new advertising campaign comprised of a trio of commercials aimed at enticing the public. The one above is most interesting. If one didn’t know better one might speculate that it was aimed squarely at the aforementioned 4chaners, as it appears to be a none to subtle nod at a similar speech from Fight Club which, among other things, inspired the boards’s rules. Perhaps it is merely a byproduct of the organization’s many ties with elite Hollywood actors. Either way, the ads are undeniably slick and handily fit in with Scientology’s sci-fi roots. These are ads you would expect to find on the television in a Philip K. Dick novel; plastered on the billboards of some dystopian, near-future Los Angeles.

Mostly, though, they bring me back to my childhood, staying home sick from school and watching daytime television. Family Feud cuts to commercial break and a series of insightful questions flash on screen, appended by page numbers. How can a person suddenly lose confidence? Can your mind limit your success? Paper or plastic? Then, CRASH, a volcano explodes on the screen, churning up a hellish cauldron of white-hot magma, an ominous voice intoning the words “Read Dianetics, by L. Ron Hubbard. It’s the owner’s manual, for the human mind.” It had a profound effect on me as a child. At least, until The Feud came back on.

Come Sail Away

Journey by Egil Paulsen

Like any other job, there are downsides to being employed at the Catacombs. The company health insurance does not cover dental, for example. Also, parking is sparse. There are also more idiosyncratic deficiencies and policies, like the recent memo I received from Zoe which informed the staff that olives would no longer be allowed on the premises. Still, for every omission or strange and drug-addled edict, there is a perk. Our co-pay is almost criminally low and the break room is always fully stocked. The company also works with other local businesses to get discounts for employees, like 10% off electrolysis (Thanks, Dave!).

Certainly the best perks though, are the company vehicles. Not only are they immaculate and well-kept, they are also available for employee use. It’s comforting to know that should the grind of panning through the silt of the web for that tell-tale sparkle become too much, one can call down to M.E.R. to have their office unlocked and sign out the company balloon for an hour. After being escorted to the roof there it will be, the cranium full and bobbing gently over the basket. Then, it’s just a matter of dropping some of the eyes and you’re on your way. Just you, your armed guard, and the endless gray vista.

Coilhouse Issue 03 Cover Revealed!

Issue 03 arrived today! We’re still too giddy to write up a proper post describing the issue, so for now, we’re just showing off the cover, photographed by the talented Gustavo Lopez Mañas. Part of a haunting series called Avatars, this image was shot exclusively for Issue 03. Behind the jump, a couple more images from this 8-page series. Watch the blog carefully this week – very soon, we’ll be unveiling the rest of Issue 03’s content, the day it goes on sale, and what other goodies (new shirt design! stickers!) we have for you.

Our third issue took us further down the spiral of paper-fetish addiction; we upgraded the thickness of both the cover paper and the paper inside. This time we went with a heavy gloss for the cover and experimented with embossing for the title. Many more facts about Issue 03 are yet to come!

BTC: The Royal Ballet’s “Tales of Beatrix Potter”

Hey, can we all pool our resources and send fresh bouquets of snapdragons n’ dafferdillies to British ballet choreographer Frederick Ashton every day for the rest of his life? Seriously:

Piggy pas de deux! Jemima Puddle-Duck on pointe!

Must. Stop. Squealing.

The original film version of Tales of Beatrix Potter, shot in 1971, has twice been staged by the Royal Ballet, once in 1992, and more recently in 2007. The score –arranged and composed by John Lanchbery– delightfully interweaves melodies from old vaudeville ditties with more classical forms. The masks, costumes and production design are all so squee-inducingly adorable as to border on the demented. But it’s the incredible range of expression and dynamicism of Ashton’s choreography that brings beloved characters like Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Squirrel Nutkin and Hunca Munca so vibrantly to life. I’d give just about anything to see a production of this at the Royal Opera House. Here’s hoping it comes back sooner than later! Meantime, there are tons of clips to watch online, and a DVD to buy.

(Still squealing. Can’t be helped.)

A Cloud Of Strawberries.

There are some days on which I have absolutely no intention of blogging. My mind dessicated, dry and wrung out like an old, disintegrating sponge, the words are simply no longer there. They have abandoned the empty husk which once housed them and have relocated elsewhere, out of my reach and away from the harsh, disapproving gaze of the blinking cursor on my monitor.

This was to be one such day and, indeed, it was until I came across this piece, entitled Fluid, by Clair Morgan. Something about it stuck with me and I kept coming back to it; staring at it. I thought about it on my way home. It’s hard for me to pinpoint just exactly what draws me to it. I suppose it’s the precision of the entire affair. The way the strawberries are hung in neat rows except for those that perfectly follow the trajectory of the fallen crow. The arrangement of the crow itself caught at the point of impact; and the carefully squashed strawberries that accompany its terminus. All these, working in concert create a startling sense of movement; of a moment frozen perfectly in time.

via who killed bambi?

Travis Louie Curates “Monster?” in LA

Mommy-Four-Legs by Zoetica, part of the Monster show in LA

Calling all Angel City residents! This Saturday, Corpo Nason gallery in Santa Monica is hosting Monster?, a group art exhibit curated by artist and Issue 01 contributor Travis Louie. The show includes several Coilhouse featured artists and friends. The lineup includes the following:

Jessica Joslin, Molly Crabapple, Audrey Kawasaki, Kris Kuksi, Ron English, Zoetica Ebb, Jordu Schell, Femke Hiemstra, Tessar Lo, Martin Wittfooth, Chet Zar, Amanda Visell, Ana Bagayan, Annie Owens, Attaboy, Bill Basso, Bob Eggleton, Brandt Peters, Brian Despain, Brom, Chris Ryniak, Dan Quintana, Ekundayo, Dave Chung, Dave DeVries, Davey Wong, Deseo, Dice Tsutsumi, Donato Giancola, Francesco LoCastro, Fred Harper, Heidi Taillefer, Isabel Samaras, James Zar, Jason D’Aquino, Kirk Reinert, Kris Lewis, David Stoupakis, Lola, Mari Inukai, Mark Texiera, Mark Garro, Mike Lee, Mike Knapp, Miles Teves, Nash Dunnigan, Nouar, Peter Nguyen, Robert Mackenzie, Stephen Hickman, Steve Ellis, Steve Price, Vince Natale, Tim O’Brien, Tristan Elwell, Vincent DiFate, Willie Real, Vincent Nguyen and Xiaoqing Ding.

Travis Louie told Erratic Phenomena that many of the artists he chose for the show come from a background of production design- creators whose work is often not recognized the same way that most people can readily identify fine artists. Louie told EP, “we usually see their names in the closing credits of a motion picture, but don’t really know what they actually did for the film we were watching – or as illustrators, we see their work as book cover illustrations, or in magazines like Rolling Stone, Time, Playboy, etc., but the beauty of what they’ve done is taken for granted.”

As an added bonus, the elusive and legendary Kogi taco truck will be there to represent! You may even receive a sneak glimpse of Issue 03 if you find us at the event (and it will be unveiled on this site sometime in the next 10 days). The reception will go from 8 to 11:30pm. Copro Nason is located at the Bergamot Arts Complex, 2525 Michigan Ave T5, Santa Monica, CA 90404. See you there!

Surgical Nightmares

There is, I find, a fascination with outdated methods of medicine. It stems, I think, from a combination of what strikes us now as the humorous ignorance on the part of the medical practitioners of bygone eras and abject terror at the products of said ignorance. Certainly, a quick glance around the web finds a myriad of lists focusing on extremely painful procedures and heinous looking surgical objects meant to cure ailments ranging from appendicitis to hiccups.

This particular list of “20 Scary Old School Surgical Tools” is no exception and, indeed, it does manage quite handily to fulfill the purpose set forth by its title containing, as it does, a score of surgical instruments of dubious nature and malevolent air. It is rife with miniature scimitars, saws, and horrid contraptions meant only to mutilate and scar as well as less insidious forms of early quackery like the tobacco enema kit pictured above.

The hook here, so to speak, is the sheer brutality these instruments represent. There is no subtlety or delicacy involved; they are meant to create a serviceable opening as quickly as possible so that the doctor could insert their hands inside whatever cavity was their focus. In that regard, it strikes me that, perhaps, the gynecologist’s arsenal remains little changed, a collection of devices used to stretch and pry open their victims as if opening a tin can. Of course, it is also entirely possible that this may merely represent a distinct and grievous misunderstanding of the gynecological craft on my part.

via jwz

Human Rights? Not For You, Filthy Sodomite.

If one were to attend law school one could do a lot worse than New York University. The prestigious institution has a long and storied history. It also has an excellent program which invites well educated law professors from around the world to teach at NYU for a semester. This fall, Thio Li-ann will be teaching a class on human rights. Dr. Li-ann has an impressive résumé with degrees from Cambridge, Harvard, and Oxford. She has served on various law and advisory boards and taught at universities in New Zealand, Australia, and Taiwan. She has written papers on international law and human rights. She has also served in parliament in her home of Singapore where she worked tirelessly to protect the public from sodomy by supporting the continuation of legislation that criminalizes homosexual acts.

That last point seems to have angered some gay and lesbian students, many of whom are members of NYU OUTLaw. The group sent out an email to fellow students drawing attention to statements made by Dr. Li-ann in a speech she gave to Singapore’s Parliament on October 22, 2007 (transcript here; video above) concerning the fate of 377A of Singapore’s penal code which states the following:

Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.

Over the course of her argument Li-ann provides a laundry list of reasons for why this statute must stand and just how its repeal would cause society to collapse into a sweaty pile of diseased, unmarried, sex-crazed perverts who would, presumably, roam the streets raping children and feasting on the flesh of heterosexuals. The scope of her speech is, at times, breathtaking. She argues that homosexuality is a choice and homosexuals can change. She supposes that terms like “sexual orientation” can not only apply to homosexuality but to incest, bestiality, and pedophilia. She is also concerned about health, arguing that sodomy breeds disease with this, astonishing simile: “Anal-penetrative sex is inherently damaging to the body and a misuse of organs, like shoving a straw up your nose to drink.”

She then goes on to provide a handy list of five key steps that supporters of the gay agenda subscribe to in order to push their views and undermine society, one of which looks to lower the age of consent and another which looks to prohibit discrimination based and sexual orientation. These quickly bring her back to, you guessed it, pedophilia; going as far as to quote the “motto” of NAMBLA. She wraps up this particular section with a warning for the ladies:

To slouch back to Sodom is to return to the Bad Old Days in ancient Greece or even China where sex was utterly wild and unrestrained, and homosexuality was considered superior to man-women relations. Women’s groups should note that where homosexuality was celebrated, women were relegated to low social roles; when homosexuality was idealized in Greece, women were objects not partners, who ran homes and bore babies. Back then, whether a man had sex with another man, woman or child was a matter of indifference, like one’s eating preferences. The only relevant category was penetrator and penetrated; sex was not seen as interactive intimacy, but a doing of something to someone. How degrading.

She then goes on to blame the invention of marriage on the Torah, which I find not only ridiculous but highly offensive. One would like to think we’ve progressed far enough to where such antisemitism from an elected official would not be tolerated. It seems that people are still more than willing to blame the world’s ills on the Jews.

NYU has, thus far, not elected to rescind Dr. Li-ann’s invitation to teach, but there are questions that must be asked; the first and foremost of those being whether or not she is qualified to teach a class on human rights, something Cary Nelson, national president of the American Association of University Professors — which has advised NYU on this matter — has doubts: “Academic freedom protects you from retaliation for your extramural remarks, but it does not protect you from being prohibited from teaching in an area where you are not professionally competent […]”

via Inside Higher Ed

Lost Book: Untressed by Dima Smelyantsev

De Halskette, 1999

First off, I want to say thank you again to everyone who commented on my home decorating post. I haven’t found time to properly respond to all the helpful comments because I’ve been finalizing the move into that dream apartment I mentioned in the post. What I didn’t mention is that this dream apartment is actually in whole different country. More details on that to come! Incidentally, Mer is also moving to a another country on the other side of the world this summer. Coilhouse will soon be not just international, but TRI-CONTINENTAL. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, a short post about the lost photography of Dima Smelyantsev. Very little is known about him online. What I know of him, I’ve pieced together from what my cousin told me. He was originally from Russia, but lived in New York. He published one book, Untressed. The book contained vulnerable, fetishistic black-and-white portraits of women who had just shaved their heads (though, she notes, Dima himself had long, wild hair). My cousin appeared in the book, though she never signed a release. Sometime later, he died at a relatively young age – his heart just stopped. And with his death, the book gradually disappeared. The only traces remain on used book sites (on Amazon, a lone copy sells for $127) and on the graphic designer’s site. Thanks to the ever-useful Wayback Machine, I was able to find the original publisher’s page for the book, but that’s pretty much it. And that’s a shame, because I really enjoy the photo above. So admire it for what it is – a relic, your only glimpse of something that’s been lost to time.

The Wild World Of Hasil “Haze” Adkins

In the depths of West Virginia a wild man lived amongst the hills and trailers and tar-paper shacks. Fueled by alcohol and possessing a madness born of that place, he made music. He made music about violence and hot dogs; aliens and chickens. And in 2005, not long after being run over by a teenager on an ATV, he died. His name was Hasil Adkins. Some called him Haze.

Julien Nitzberg’s 1993 documentary The Wild World Of Hasil “Haze” Adkins: One Man Band and Inventor of the Hunch is decidedly short, considering the subject matter, and yet it is fitting for a man who took claim for nine thousand songs, many of which are merely seconds long, consisting solely of bestial whoops and screams. He is, perhaps, the epitome of a “cult” musician, little known outside of certain, rigidly defined circles bound in bright lipstick and leopard print, and even then mostly known for having his name dropped by bands like The Cramps. The portrayal here is one of an amiable lunatic, a portrayal which I am unqualified to argue with, knowing as little as I do about the man. Regardless, it is impossible to ignore the dark undertones of his work, perfectly reflected in his surroundings, especially the impromptu brawl between bar patrons at one of his performances. Little doubt is left as to what had inspired him. The man wrote what he knew.