Moe! Staiano and Surplus 1980


Click the image to visit Moe!’s Kickstarter.

Surplus 1980 – Relapse In Response by moestaiano1

Moe! Staiano has been briefly mentioned on da ‘Haus before (most memorably in this post celebrating Viggie and other EPIC DRUMMERS). My description:

“Dada Percussionist” Moe! Staiano is that proverbial storm-in-teacup; a spring-loaded, anarchic sprite whose wildly improvisational style summons the spirits of Einsturzende Neubauten and Raymond Scott in equal measure. Spontaneous, mischievous, and always in earnest, Moe! is one of the most delightful live performers around. You’re never quite sure what’s coming next, but you know it’s going to be FUN.

Considering who he is and what he’s trying to achieve artistically, Moe! has long deserved a more fully fledged writeup here. With mere days left on a wonderful Kickstarter project that hasn’t quite reached its funding goal, now’s the time.

The first blip of Moe! appeared on my radar around 2001: he was touring through NYC as a member Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and his frenetic energy and feral performance instincts were a revelation to watch. Over the past decade, the Oakland-based experimental drummer, percussionist and composer has continued to enrapture audiences worldwide with his strange and beautiful approach to noisemaking.

As his Wiki states, Moe! works in a “variety of found sounds and prepared trap set as well as massive orchestra conductions of his own scored compositions.” Here’s some footage of one of his huge group pieces, “Death of a Piano”:

…SICK, right?

Over the past year, Moe! has been working feverishly on his Surplus 1980 recordings.

“[A project that] rose from the ashes of my old former band, Mute Socialite, which split up in 2009. It is a collection of songs that were former ideas that were meant to be used for Mute Socialite, but never really made it, as well as three cover songs.”

“Surplus 1980 is a post-punk band of a rotating line up of some fine musicians*, many extending from great bands to be heard on this project including members from the Ex, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and Faun Fables, among others, including Mute Socialite. The album in its entirety has been recorded by Dan Rathbun and is completed and ready to be pressed for a limited edition vinyl LP and CD run. The funds to complete the release are the only thing needed to get it done.”

Surplus 1980 – Excellent Girl (Bogshed cover) by moestaiano1

The funds raised for Surplus 1980 will be used to press the LP (a gorgeously designed limited run of 250 copies, with 100 on colored vinyl) and additionally be pressed on CD (“I still believe in CDs”, insists Moe) as well as a download coupon. All funds will go 100% into this pressing. Any additional funds raised will be used for studio time for recording the next album.

*Full disclosure: along with a gobsmackingly awesome roster of other musicians, I am featured on this record. It would really thrill me to see this unique, inspired material get the lavish DIY print run it so richly deserves. Please make with the Kickstarter clickies if you love frenzied, toe-tapping post-punk joyfulness as much as I do.

Poésie Noire: “Tragedy”

Let Poésie Noire transport you to a simpler time, when goths were GOTHS, and donning black lipstick ‘n’ goggles to shoot one’s darque synthpop music video in a desolate industrial setting wasn’t enough; only by dancing spasmodically atop slanting planks with newspaper stuffed down one’s pants could one convey true angst.


Best comment on teh YooToobz: “You gotta love the eighties videos. ‘I will stand here and look like a mysterious complex individual that has secrets that don’t exist and I still want you to figure out what I’m thinking about right now.’ Long live alternative music!” ~Mannchild11

The only thing that could potentially improve the “Tragedy” viewing experience would be inclusion of footage of lead singer Johan Casters (aka “La Bête Noire” – “The Black/Dark Beast”) actually “climb[ing] to ze top of ze tree” in that getup.

But seriously, these wacky Belgians made some great tunes, and paved the way for fellow dark synth countrymen Front 242 and Neon Judgment. So good on ‘em and their neo-Victorian inflatables!

Other tidbits of possible interest:


via DJ Dead Billy

Mia Mäkilä’s Feel Good Demons


“Oh la la”

“I paint my demons. I paint nightmares. To get rid of them.  I paint my fears. I paint my sorrow. To deal with them.” - Mia Mäkilä

Mia Mäkilä, a self-taught artist who lives and works in Sweden, describes her art as “horror pop surrealism” or “dark lowbrow” and further illustrates: “Picture Pippi Longstocking and Swedish movie director Ingmar Bergman having a love child. That’s me.”

Her work consists of digital paintings and vintage photographs manipulated and distorted to produce nightmarish mixed media portraits. The creations borne of Mäkilä’s artistic process are both uncomfortably horrific and unaccountably humorous– demonic entities lurk in the form of  gash-mouthed, leering Victorian families staring from within a tintype void. Fire-breathing/ennui-stricken and dandified gentlemen ejaculate from the precarious heights of a Parisian rooftop. All manner of flaming Boschian hells overflow with cavorting fish and flamingos and God knows what else.


“Holiday in Hell”

Old Dogs

Eight years ago Nancy LeVine began traveling America, photographing elderly dogs. A simple premise, surely, and one, perhaps, ideally suited for the internet, where we love our pictures of both dogs and cats. She explains what drew her to the idea:

My interest in the world of the senior dog began as my own two dogs began to approach the end of their days. This was at a time when I had lived enough years to start imagining my own mortality. I entered a world of grace where bodies that had once expressed their vibrancy were now on a more fragile path.

I saw how the dog does it; how, without the human’s painful ability to project ahead and fear the inevitable, the dog simply wakes to each day as a new step in the journey. Though their steps might be more stiff and arduous, these dogs still moved through each day as themselves — themselves of that day and all the days before.

The result is an impressive set of portraits of the animals that, for many of us, are our constant companions.

Alex Jones And The Clockwork Elves

Every once in a while I like to check in on Alex Jones, just to see how he’s doing. The man lives in a very dangerous world, you understand. Far more dangerous than the sphere that you and I inhabit. Crazy shit goes down on a daily basis in Jones’s ‘hood, so I just stop by every now and then to make sure that his head hasn’t exploded or, at the very least, to witness his head exploding.

There could not have been a better time. Truly, this is some of the man’s finest work. It’s got everything a conspiracy could ask for: government cover-ups, drug use, Philip K. Dick and elves. It’s awe-inspiring stuff. The gist is that powerful old men, who may or may not be ruling the world, are jacked up on the powerful hallucinogen dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Under the effects of the drug, they have come into contact with beings Jones’s claims they refer to as “clockwork elves” who instructed them to enslave humanity and build the Large Hadron Collider.

Now, Jones insists that he does not believe this (probably…maybe) and that this is “pretty David Icke”. He wants you to know that he doesn’t talk about this stuff because it would blow your mind. But he also knows that you need to know these things. You need to be aware because, as mentioned, Alex Jones lives in a pretty dangerous world and, with his help, you can too.

BTC: Death Metal Cockatiel

It’s been too long since we featured a badass brvtal bird on BTC!


Song is “Cast Down the Heretic” by Nile. Via Lucille D., thanks!

(Wonder what kind of energy drink that is…)

“How to Become a Sensuous Witch”

Sexy Witch writes:

“Two of New York’s most successful witches”, Abragail and Valaria, “reveal their occult (and culinary) secrets for a livelier love life!” in How to Become a Sensuous Witch: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for a Livelier Love Life (New York: Paperback Library, [November] 1971). The shout on the rear cover continues:

Finding a new love, or getting rid of an old one, is simple when you use magic. Keeping the right man is easier too.

How to be a Sensuous Witch is a combination of time-tested rituals and up to the minute recipes guaranteed to satisfy you and your love.

There are spells to attract both men and money (poverty is counter-sensuous), to arouse passion, to assure fidelity, or (if you get bored) to separate your lover from you. The recipes range from elegant dinners to restorative breakfasts—and there is a whole chapter on festive Sabbats for your whole Coven!

More info at Sexy Witch. Via Catamara, thanks!

American Comics Reader Facing Criminal Charges In Canada

Attacks on comics are getting worse and worse. Border searches are on the rise, and have are growing more invasive all the time.

Via Warren Ellis, here’s a verbatim press release from Charles Brownstein (charles.brownstein@cbldf.org) and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund:

CBLDF Forms Coalition to Defend American Comics Reader Facing Criminal Charges In Canada

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today announces that it is forming a coalition to support the legal defense of an American citizen who is facing criminal charges in Canada that could result in a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison for comics brought into the country on his laptop.  This incident is the most serious in a trend the CBLDF has been tracking involving the search and seizure of the print and electronic comic books carried by travelers crossing borders.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, “Although the CBLDF can’t protect comic fans everywhere in every situation, we want to join this effort to protect an American comic fan being prosecuted literally as he stood on the border of our country for behavior the First Amendment protects here, and its analogues in Canadian law should protect there.”

The CBLDF has agreed to assist in the case by contributing funds towards the defense, which has been estimated to cost $150,000 CDN.  The CBLDF will also provide access to experts and assistance on legal strategy.  The CBLDF’s efforts are joined by the recently re-formed Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund, a Canadian organization that will contribute to the fundraising effort.  Please contribute to this endeavor by making a tax deductible contribution here.

The facts of the case involve an American citizen, computer programmer, and comic book enthusiast in his mid-twenties who was flying from his home in the United States to Canada to visit a friend.  Upon arrival at Canadian Customs a customs officer conducted a search of the American and his personal belongings, including his laptop, iPad, and iPhone. The customs officer discovered manga on the laptop and considered it to be child pornography.  The client’s name is being withheld on the request of counsel for reasons relating to legal strategy.

The images at issue are all comics in the manga style.  No photographic evidence of criminal behavior is at issue.  Nevertheless, a warrant was issued and the laptop was turned over to police.  Consequently, the American has been charged with both the possession of child pornography as well as its importation into Canada. As a result, if convicted at trial, the American faces a minimum of one year in prison. This case could have far reaching implications for comic books and manga in North America.

The CBLDF’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to aid the case by raising funds to contribute to the defense and to help the defense with strategy and expert resources.

Brownstein says, “This is an important case that impacts the rights of everyone who reads, publishes, and makes comics and manga in North America. It underscores the dangers facing everyone traveling with comics, and it can establish important precedents regarding travelers rights.  It also relates to the increasingly urgent issue of authorities prosecuting art as child pornography.  While this case won’t set a US precedent, it can inform whatever precedent is eventually set.  This case is also important with respect to artistic merit in the Canadian courts, and a good decision could bring Canadian law closer to US law in that respect.  With the help of our supporters, we hope to raise the funds to wage a fight that yields good decisions and to create tools to help prevent these sorts of cases from continuing to spread.”

Find out more on the case here. To help support the case, you can make a monetary contribution here.

About CBLDF
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1986 as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of First Amendment rights for members of the comics community. They have defended dozens of Free Expression cases in courts across the United States, and led important education initiatives promoting comics literacy and free expression. For additional information, donations, and other inquiries call 800-99-CBLDF or visit them online at www.cbldf.org.

About CLLDF
The Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1987 to raise money for the defense of a Calgary, Alberta comic shop whose owners were charged with selling obscene materials. The CLLDF has since been maintained on an ad hoc basis to provide financial relief for Canadian comics retailers, publishers, professionals, or readers whose right to free speech has been infringed by civil authorities.  Largely dormant since the early 1990s, the CLLDF is reforming to provide support for this case, and reorganizing to ensure that help will be readily available for future cases involving Canadian citizens or authorities.  To help the CLLDF in this mission, please go to www.clldf.ca.

Wooo! Historic Vote for Same-Sex Marriage in New York!

“We knew it was going to be a matter of when – not if,” said Robert Ostergaard, 44, of Chelsea. “That’s the arc of history.


Photo by James Keivom

Congratulations, New Yorkers! Tonight, we’re celebrating with you.

(California, you’re NEXT. Time to step up.)

Farewell, Peter Falk

“Peter has a great range from comedy to drama. He could break your heart or he could make you laugh.” ~Director William Friedkin

To honor a handsomely disheveled, gruff-voiced and lovable actor who has passed away, here’s a beautiful scene from Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire:

Read more about how Falk came to play an ex-angel in the classic German romantic fantasy film here. (Via moonandserpent.)