“Knocked The Bottom Out of Me”? Knock it off, PETA.

Oh, PETA…


(via SigKate)

Can’t you folks create any campaigns that don’t hinge on some form of insipid, othering, sexist objectification? It shouldn’t be that difficult, considering your stated aims. Here’s an idea: rather than euthanizing a vast majority of your rescues, how about hiring ‘em to come up with some new marketing and promotional material for ya? Argh… I’m halfway serious. It’s entirely possible that a golden retriever could provide something more palatable than the dehumanizing dreck you keep churning out like, well, sausage.

Seattle Stranger commenter CrankyBacon puts it well: “This isn’t a sex-positive vs. prude situation. Women can be engaged in policy issues, make coherent arguments, be persuasive, protest, etc. They have more to offer than standing naked outside a butcher shop, or pretending to give a blow job to a cucumber and titty fuck a carrot.” Female activists have more to offer than going nude to titillate for the cause. Women can aid your agenda in ways that don’t require them to be depicted as battered, pantsless-in-public, grocery-buying/fanny-flaunting fuckholes for ubersexed males. (Sure, naked men sometimes feature in your campaigns, but not nearly as often, and never presented in a remotely similar context.)

“Chicks Agree”? No, actually. Not this “chick”. Not with the persistent, lazy, women-as-meat misogyny, anyway. C’mon, PETA, don’t you owe it to human beings and animals alike to try to encourage more responsible and respectful discourse?

Coilhouse Presents: Matthew Borgatti’s OWS Bandanna Remix Pack!


Photo, model and wardrobe styling: Numidas Prasarn.

Last fall, artist and maker Matthew Borgatti (previously on Coilhouse) released a snappy Guy Fawkes bandanna in solidarity with OWS in his Etsy Store. “This is the hanky code for revolution,” wrote Matthew. Perfect for protecting oneself from “sudden dust storms and outbreaks of authoritarianism,” the bandanna’s design includes tips for peaceful protesting, advice for dealing with pepper spray, phone numbers to call in case of arrest, and the words “Never Forget / Never Forgive / Expect Us” emblazoned on the corners. (The disclaimer reads, “all advice offered on this bandana should not be construed as legal council. Consult a lawyer in the event of any involvement with the law. If you cite a bandana as your legal council in court you will be laughed at by a man in a wig.”)

The bandanna quickly went viral thanks to BoingBoing, Reddit (featuring the best comment thread ever) and Laughing Squid. The mask was soon adopted by artists involved in the Occupy Movement, including Neil Gaiman and Molly Crabapple, as well as protesters nationwide.

Debuting here on Coilhouse under the Share-Alike Attribution Non-Commercial license, we proudly present the OWS Bandana Remix Pack! The zip file (1.7 MB) contains elements to remix as masks, prints, bandanas, and posters. Included are vector files with elements, stencils, and a copy of the full text on the bandana. “If you’d like to create your own Fawkes bandana,” writes Matthew, “I’d suggest cutting out a stencil on acetate and bleach printing.” Add your own layers, create new patterns and print as many as you want.

Click here to download the OWS Bandana Remix Pack! And do send us or Matthew the artwork, posters or fashion that results. We’d love to see what you come up with. After the cut, a brief interview with the maker.

Are you at all worried about the film studio suing you?
I am, a little, as I think I’ve got a solid case for the independence of this art from the works that it references, but can easily be shut down by the studio on a whim. I don’t have the financial weight to do anything but to submit to an injunction or C&D, as I can’t afford the kind of legal representation it takes to swat off Time Warner. Guy Fawkes has gone from a person, to a caricature represented in mask and effigy, to a comic book character, to a film character, to an iconic mask, to the face of an ambiguous entity, to a symbol for revolution and direct action for social change. How a single company could own all that baffles me.

Why Coilhouse Is Going Dark

Effective immediately, we’ll be shutting down until midnight tomorrow to protest two pieces of blacklist legislation – PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate, and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House.

Over the weekend, we saw several victories against the bills.  The Obama administration came out against the DNS blocking in response to the anti-SOPA petition.  SOPA author and notorious copyright infringer Rep. Lamar Smith stated on Friday that DNS blocking would be struck from the bill.  The Internet may have won these battles, but the war is far from over. Despite earlier reports that SOPA was “shelved” (or, as some might say “indefinitely detained”) over the weekend, Lamar Smith announced today that SOPA markup would resume next month.

SOPA has not gone away. PIPA is still up for a vote on January 24th. It’s time to make our voices heard. Coilhouse will be standing with Wikipedia, the EFF, BoingBoing, Reddit, and sites all over the world.

Coilhouse (and countless other publishers, businesses, and activists) could never thrive in a world where SOPA and PIPA were considered reasonable. We oppose the concept of the MPAA (or any corporate sponsor, for that matter) actually writing legislation. We oppose a room full of politicians who don’t understand how the Internet works making vital judgements about its future.

Some relevant quotes:

“If the ████ SOPA [and PIPA] bill passes, ████████████ we’re all kind of ████ed.” – Marina Galperina

“I’m not by any means an enemy of intellectual property, and in fact keep a roof over my head because the conceptexists. But I think that SOPA as it stands now, or as it stood beforethey paused to think about it, is extremely ill thought out, and abasically crazily Draconian piece of legislation.” – William Gibson

“Our freedom is more important than your dying industry. Period.” – @mikeestee

“It doesn’t get much better than working from a war room dedicated to shutting down Wikipedia.” – overheard by @sfslim at the offices of Wikipedia

“These bills were written by the content industry without any input from the technology industry. And they are trying to fast track them through Congress and into law without any negotiation with the technology industry.” – Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures)

“When ideas are blocked, information deleted, conversations stifled and people constrained in their choices, the Internet is diminished for all of us. There isn’t an economic Internet and a social Internet and a political Internet. There’s just the Internet.” – Hillary Clinton

“The potential for abuse of power through digital networks – upon which we as citizens now depend for nearly everything, including our politics – is one of the most insidious threats to democracy in the Internet age … This is no time for politicians and industry lobbyists in Washington to be devising new Internet censorship mechanisms, adding new opportunities for abuse of corporate and government power over online speech.” – Rebecca MacKinnon (New York Times)

“We’re furthering our corporate interest by taking down our website + ads, to stop a law that the MPAA says can’t harm us.” – Rob Beschizza in response to MPAA butthurt

When was the last time you saw “The Internet” agree about something? It’s beautiful. Thanks, #SOPA! – @raindrift

Intellectual property theft is a problem for artists, and additional safeguards may be needed. As avant-cellist Zoe Keating tweeted earlier today, “I’m against #SOPA, but meanwhile I’m issuing a 7th, ineffective & useless DMCA against @grooveshark. #devilinthedetails” (Grooveshark is notorious among music streaming sites for refusing to pay artists their fair share.) There are no easy solutions. Whether it’s collaboratively fine-tuning the OPEN Act (and it turns out that Rep. Zoe Lofgren, one of the act’s sponsors and SOPA’s biggest opponents, actually listens to feedback) or working out some other method of protest (perhaps a huge internet campaign to educate fans on which sites most fairly compensate the artists they love?), we can work together to construct an Internet where innovation can thrive and artists can fairly profit their work.

SOPA and PIPA cannot pass. The stats are scary: we currently have only 6 Senators opposing PIPA, and we need 40. Only 12 House Members oppose SOPA, and we need 214.

Get involved. Some tips from Congressman Jared Polis and the EFF:

  1. Show up at a town hall or talk to them in person, check their schedule with their office.
  2. Call your Senators and Representative and tell them to oppose Protect-IP and SOPA, respectively.  Click here for some suggested talking points. Then tell your friends about the call on social media sites.
  3. Contact Congress through EFF’s action center.  Customize your letter to explain who you are and why you are worried about this bill. If you’re outside the United States, try this petition from Fight for the Future instead.
  4. Are you an artist? Showcase the dangers of censorship through art and music, and use your art as a way of reaching people who might otherwise not know about this issue. You can make stickers, posters or patches, create a YouTube video, or hold an open-mic night around censorship.
  5. Write a blog post about the blacklist bills.  Whether it’s a candid explanation of why you oppose the legislation, a discussion of the effect on human rights, or a call to filmmakersto protest the blacklist, there are plenty of things to say about this scary legislation. Help us get the word out by writing articles on your own blog, your school blog, or on blogs that take guest contributors.
  6. If you work for a tech company, approach the leadership at your company and explain to them your concerns. Urge them to join you in speaking out. These companies (PDF) already took a stand.
  7. More tips available from The EFF.

Together, we will defeat this.

Have you called the White House yet?


Tom the Dancing Bug, via BoingBoing.

Plenty of websites have been reporting/debating/parsing the National Defense Authorization Act controversy for weeks now. In a nutshell, the NDAA contains provisions that have been worded so broadly, they’ll give any future president the power to imprison American citizens and legal residents of the U.S. indefinitely and without trial on the basis of accusation (even without proof) of a “belligerent act”.

Indefinitely. Without trial. This situation is not merely about politics; it’s about our most basic and precious civil rights.

If you can find a minute in the next 24 hours to call (202) 456-1414 to ask President Obama to change his mind, he still has until tomorrow (Dec 26th) to veto the bill.

It’s worth a shot.

[EDIT: Sunday, Dec 25. Apologies, folks. Looks like the office is closed until Tuesday. But, by all means, write a letter (even if it’s too late): http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/write-or-call#write ]

Sunflower, the Centaur Disney Wants to Forget

In 1940, Disney released Fantasia; an epic animated film consisting of several shorts set to classical pieces. If you haven’t seen it, it’s perfect for the holidays. There are fairies and unicorns and dancing mushrooms.

And, of course, Fantasia includes the Pastoral Symphony. As a child, I was happily unaware of the heteronormative, gender essentialist overtones of this piece. I was just excited to see all the centaur boobs and watch the fashion show unfold. Multicolored centaurettes wearing hats made from lotus flowers, birch bark and even live white doves. Exotic mythical creatures lazing around all day, spending the beautiful sunset hours eating grapes, swinging on giant swings, and bathing by the waterfall. It was just lovely. Looking back, it’s clear how ridiculous the whole thing was. A post at Nectarade provides a hilarious, pitch-perfect overview (click through to the site, it’s better with pictures):

There’s a centaur meetup and the ladies are “dressing up” so it’s not so obvious they’re all clones of each other in different colors. The males are also clonic, but they don’t give a shit about looking alike because they’re there for the mare pussy (well, that sounded funny). Also, there are some weird “little cherubs” playing as sassy gay friends of the girls, matchmakers, makeover artists, and creepy voyeurs. My first reaction: “Why are there cherubs in Olympus, anyway? I suppose they’re sort of little cupids without the bow and arrows, but it’s still fucking weird.” I did my homework, and those things are called putto (plural: putti) . Oh, okay, it makes sense artistically then. It’s still weird because they’re little creepers in this movie, but I’ve learned something new today!

…meanwhile, the clonic Ken doll centaurs get their own catwalk show from which they pick the girl they want to fuck senseless take to the prom. I don’t know if it’s racism or narcissism or fashion taken to the extreme, but I can’t help but notice that all the pairings have similar color palettes. Red/pink/brown/yellow goes with red/pink/brown/yellow, blue/purple goes with blue/purple. That’s very disappointing. You can also tell how much the couples want to have sex as soon as possible, but they can’t because there are little kids watching (and depraved putti stalking them).

Seriously, they have to settle with a lot of second-base touching and inane activities such as playing in swings and eating grapes and just hang out, sitting here consumed with lust for the rest of the evening. But OH NOES!! EMERGENCY!!! DISASTER!!! ONE OF THE CENTAURS IS ALONE! Don’t worry, guys! There’s a centauride who’s also alone! And in the same color scheme! We’re saved! How convenient that there was the same amount of boys and girls! So our team of putti, like fanbrats who feel compelled to pair every character up in the bad fanfiction they write, set them to a date by playing their phallic flute-trumpets. Thankfully, our two dorks liked each other and were actually the ones with less libido. Actually, they’re quite sweet and old-fashioned, and I’m glad for them. I mean, as happy as it can be since the putti are still stalking like Edward Cullen in Bella Swan’s period days, and even when they drop the curtain (literally) they’re still peeking over the centaurs. Eww, GTFO!

The above review of Pastoral Symphony was pretty complete… except, HELLO, WHAT’S THIS:

That’s right. Disney originally included a character named Sunflower – a half-donkey, half black girl servant figure who polished hoofs, brushed/decorated tails, and carried garlands for the centaurettes. It’s not surprising that Nectarade didn’t catch them; the scenes haven’t appeared on any release of Fantasia since the 1960s, and are hard to come by in high quality. Most versions on YouTube look like they were taped off a television. Here is the best-quality collection of all censored scenes. Sister Suffragette adds, “there’s also the possibility that there are more Sunflowers; the movie shows Sunflower with a couple different hair styles which could mean that they actually represent several servant/slave half-asses. It’s hard to tell, though, because the difference in hair style is the only distinguishing feature … of course she was happily shining the hoofs and fixing the tails of the non-black centaurs and there’s not even any thought or explanation given as to why she’s the only one that doesn’t meet a mate by the end of the segment. The others females are chosen by the males who picked them out of the lot after the females paraded and posed in front of the males.”

The real kicker is that, according to several sources, Disney adamantly denied that Sunflower even existed up until somebody finally dug up the footage and put it on the internet (despite the fact that you can find her chowin’ down on watermelon, in stereotypical fashion, in the Fantasia cut-out book. Perhaps Disney was counting on the fact that it’s solidly out of print).

Recently, artists have been reclaiming and re-imagining Sunflower, so perhaps there’s a silver lining to all of this (as an aside, people are also reimagining some of the other Fantasia nubile centaurettes in a very – how shall I put this – non-heteronormative, non-monogamous way. Thanks, Rule 34. Thanks, Internet). People are imagining Sunflower (or Sunflowers) as a strong, confident young girl. Or a self-aware, independent woman. Or even painting her as a servant, but with much more emotion and character. If Disney won’t make this right, the people will. More remixes of Sunflower, after the jump.

Sunflower by AtomicFireball: “This is not a fanart. It’s a little wishful thinking of my own. This is my Sunflower, who never served a mistress.”

Transphobia is Tasteless: An Open Letter to Hell Pizza

EDIT: (Mon, Dec 5th, 6:45 NZT) Hell Pizza’s webmaster has just remarked on their Facebook page: “We’ve taken what you and others have said onboard and realised we crossed the line with some of our biggest advocates. We apologise.”  Thank you for taking responsibility, Hell Pizza.

EDIT (Mon, Dec 5th, 6:15 NZT): Hell Pizza Admits “Sense of Humour Failure“. 

Hell Pizza is an international food chain that started here in Wellington, New Zealand in 1996. They’ve since expanded within NZ and brought stores to the UK, Australia, Ireland, Canada and Korea. They’re no strangers to controversy. Entirely depending on your perspective, they’ve made some really shocking dick moves in the past, and pulled off some  darkly satisfying campaigns as well.

But the following “Misfortune Cookie” stunt seems especially mean-spirited, even for them:


Photo by Tamsyn Clemerson

Tamsyn Clemerson uploaded the above picture to Teh Book ov Face earlier this weekend. She has since confirmed to me in email, and to NZ NEWSWIRE, that this is a “Misfortune Cookie” she ordered from the Hell Pizza franchise:

I bought [it] on the 26th of November. I just got around to opening the last one last night, 2 December, and that was the “misfortune” that I received. I resized the photo to post it online, but aside from that have not manipulated it at all. I still have the original packaging and the misfortune, though not the cookie as I ate it because it was delicious. Please spread this as much as possible, Hell Pizza need to know that this sort of thing is not okay.

I’ve since made some calls to Hell Pizza. Two days ago, I spoke at length with a Strathmore shop manager, as well as their Wellington division marketing manager. Both employees denied knowing anything about that particular message. The latter, a very professional and lovely fellow named Jason, assured me he’d look into it, and we should keep in touch. Today, he was able to confirm that yes, this is a product Hell Pizza sells, which was signed off on by their marketing department. Apparently, they’re already getting a lot of complaints about it. And they should. Jason tells me Hell Pizza is working on an official press statement which should be out shortly. I’ll update here when it does.

I’m hardly a humorless hardnose. But for many reasons, the thoughtlessness of a product like this, especially placed in context, really fucks me off. So here’s my open letter to Hell Pizza. If, like me, you’re weary of seeing at-risk minorities be treated as the butts of hateful “jokes” (and then often further insulted by “it’s just meant to be funny; lighten up” backlash reactions) please feel free share this letter, and to join me in boycotting irresponsible franchises who stoop to this level of pandering cruelty.

Dear Hell Pizza (NZ),

If you check your Strathmore location’s online order logs, you’ll see that I’ve spent several hundred dollars on your food over the past couple of years. I love it. I love YOU!  I love how yummy your many dishes are. I love that you take chances. I love that you root for underdogs and outcasts. I love your creativity. I love that you hire inked up, pierced up people with funny-colored hair. I love that you’re so irreverent and cheeky, poking fun at overbearing religious traditions and obnoxious public figures. (Granted, those Hitler and “Brownies” billboards were bullshit, but you took ‘em down after enough people said “oh HELLS no”, and all was forgiven.)

Which makes this letter a bummer to write: I can’t buy your food anymore.

World AIDS Day

In 1985, when Coil recorded this cover of the Gloria Jones tune (not long after Soft Cell), frank and open discussion of the HIV/AIDS crisis was still considered taboo. Many media sources were too uncomfortable with/outright offended by Peter Christopherson‘s “Tainted Love” music video (featuring partner John Balance as a dying man, and Marc Almond as the Angel of Death) to acknowledge its existence.

Coil’s Scatology single Panic/Tainted Love was, in fact, the very first official AIDS benefit music release, with all profits from sales donated to the Terrence Higgins Trust. Coil’s following full-length release, Horse Rotorvator, is also steeped in themes and emotions engendered by several AIDS-related deaths in Christopherson’s and Balance’s circle of friends. (HR is arguably the most influential record Coil ever made– as bleak, fearless, and uncompromising as they could get… which is really saying something.)

Today, Coil’s “Tainted Love” music video is widely considered a creative and cultural watermark on humanity’s ongoing battle against AIDS, and has been put on permanent display at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

It’s all-too-easy in 2011 to take it for granted that candid discussion of HIV/AIDS is not only acceptable, but encouraged. And yet, we’ve still got a long way to go.

On a more personally related note, a longtime carnival chum, supporter of Coilhouse, and fellow alt-culture editor (of the splendid Culture Flux Magazine), kSea Flux, is at this moment in the ICU of San Francisco General Hospital, fighting the fight of his life. Please keep him in your thoughts. (Should you feel moved to, you can also donate to kSea’s health-care fund by using PayPal: ksea@culturefluxmagazine.com.) Lots of love, kSea.

Our mutual friend Whitney Moses, whose name you may remember from this blog post, will be pedaling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the 2012 AIDS/LifeCycle ride in honor of kSea and other loved ones, in memory of her father, and to raise more money and awareness in the ongoing battle against the disease. She says:

“Being a rider is a big challenge for me as I’ve never been much of a cyclist, but it’s worth it. This fight is important to me for so many reasons. From losing my father to AIDS as a child, to witnessing friends suffer now with this disease, it has been a major player in the lives around me for most of my life. Every little bit helps.”

She will ride with Coilhouse’s financial support, and hopefully that of some of our readers. Thank you, Whitney!

Parahawking!

Via Mr. & Mrs. Great Dismal comes word of this (relatively) new and unusually heart-tugging form of adventure sport… Parahawking:

The filmmakers mention Rio at the YouTube link, but this footage looks like it was shot in the sky above the Torrey Pines bluffs of N. County San Diego, California. And here’s another Torrey Pines clip of paraglider falconers, soaring with a Harris Hawk named Shanti.

Harris Hawks are an unusual species of raptor that can adapt splendidly to relationships with humans, becoming one of the most well-loved breeds among North American falconers. (Most raptors prefer to hunt alone, but Harris Hawks hunt together in family groups, and exhibit complex social behavior.)

Other folks have been intentionally paragliding with birds of prey elsewhere in the world for about a decade now, namely Spain and Nepal.


Soaring above the Himalayas with Kevin the Egyptian Vulture. Photo by D. Stemler.

Click here to read some parahawking FAQs answered by sport innovator Scott Mason. Mason, who has organized teams based out of both places, works primarily with endangered Egyptian Vultures (another highly social bird that gets along well with people) as well as other Asian vultures, kites, and eagles.

It’s hugely inspiring to read his words on how the sport, and his work in particular, has come to benefit conservation efforts. Mason has said that only rescued and rehabilitated birds are trained for parahawking; he never takes them from the wild. In fact, he and his partner, Anita Hjertas, also run a wild raptor rescue and conservation village called Maya Devi. Wounded wild raptors are brought there to heal, and then returned to the wild whenever possible.

So uplifting, literally!

EDIT: GAH! John P. just shared this incredible clip of Kerri Wolter from South Africa, soaring with vultures. Thank you so much, mister!

Transgender Day of Remembrance


Photo by Hans55, from last year’s Beacon of Hope vigil in Manchester, UK.

Today (Sunday the 20th of November) is the 13th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. Memorial events are taking place all over the world.

According to GLAAD, there has been an alarming global increase in brutal violence against LBTGQ people in recent years. More specifically, nearly two hundred transphobic murders were documented last year by the Transrespect vs Transphobia project. Statistics compiled by Trans Murder Monitoring assert that approximately every 72 hours, a trans person is murdered somewhere in the world. The countries with the most transphobic murders last year were Brazil, the United States, and Honduras.

These numbers only show us parts of a far bigger and more disturbing picture, as there are many countries where little, if any data, has been recorded. Nor do any of the statistics above include the gut-wrenching number of people who have been driven to take their own lives. Something to bear in mind: according to a National Gay and Lesbian Task Force / National Center for Transgender Equality survey posted at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine earlier this year, in the United States alone, “a ‘staggering’ 41 percent of the more than 6,400 respondents said they had attempted suicide, compared to a rate of 1.6 percent for the general population.”

Take a moment.

Occupy Everywhere: The West Coast

My tour has kept me from spending as much time at the Occupations as I would have liked, so some of these observations were made in brief visits. Writing this piece took me a long time because, as a fan girl of the revolution, I was uncomfortable with my negative feelings towards the occupations – especially in light of such horrendous police brutality in Oakland, CA. But I also believe that opposing opinions, dissent and criticism are very necessary for the movement, and that supporters should not be afraid to voice their concerns and observations.


Photo by Margaret Killjoy.

Oakland

My own visit to Occupy Oakland was brief and pre-dated all the police violence, but it had a lot going for it, a racially diverse crowd, the OWS standards of kitchen, library, and medical tent, its own police, and a feeling of community. Oakland is a city that needs all the forward, peaceful momentum it can get. Oakland is also a very progressive Occupation, pushing for radical actions such as the general strike on November 2nd, and for the peaceful occupation of foreclosed and abandoned properties in Oakland. Those are both brave initiatives. The occupation of foreclosed properties being especially dangerous, not only because of the police force but because Oakland can be a very dangerous city regardless of the police.