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.

“Grace Bones” by Ben Brown


“Grace Bones” by Ben Brown. (Via Shamika Baker, thanks!)

Australian graphic designer, illustrator, and artist Ben Brown creates portraits of well-known pop figures that combine “celebrity, junk culture, zombies and skulls in a graphically-charged visual extravaganza. Iconic images [...] burned in to our collective cultural psyche are given a new life… albeit as the living dead.” His Grace Jones portrait is especially badass.

“Taking the Hobbits to Isengard” (UBER EXTENDED DANCE REMIX… GO!!!)

Good morning! Guess who’s heading back to Middle Erff today? It’s gonna be a long and difficult journey. Luckily, I’m bringing along plenty of light reading material, tasty snacks, and this version of Erwin Beekveld’s “They’re Taking the Hobbits to Isengard”, which should keep me (and you!) entertained for, oh, I dunno… ten hours?


via Bunny

Or not. Have a great week, lovelies.

Numen / For Use: Tape Melbourne


Photo by Fred Kroh

Numen / For Use are an art and design collective who create organic, web-like structures from adhesive tape. Their temporary installations are large and stable enough for several adults to crawl through, and the effect is not unlike being trapped in a giant spider’s web.

After climbing up a step ladder, you find yourself suspended in a series of glistening caverns, the frosted plastic obscuring your view of the outside world.


Photo by Fred Kroh.
Their latest project, Tape Melbourne, took eight days to complete, with three artists and fifteen volunteers working nine hours every day. The exhibit used thirty kilometers of tape to build, with more tape to repair and fix the structure on a nightly basis.

The Numen / For Use website contains more examples of their work, including images and videos of the construction process. You can explore their newest installation at Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia for a few more days; from now through September 24th, 2011.


Photo courtesy of Federation Square

More photos of the installation after the jump. (Editor’s note: This is our cherished intern Connie Chen’s first blog post for Coilhouse. Thank you, Connie!)

Official Trailer for “Autoluminescent” (Rowland S. Howard Documentary)

The lovely people at Ghost Pictures just sent us the link to their new official trailer for the upcoming Rowland S. Howard documentary Autoluminescent, which is slated for an Australian theatrical release of Oct 27, 2011.

“Autoluminescent traces the life of guitarist, songwriter and artist Rowland S. Howard. Rowland S. Howard was an influential figure in contemporary music, particularly renowned for his role in seminal post-punk bands The Birthday Party, Crime & City Solution, and These Immortal Souls. In a career spanning 30 years Howard worked with the best artists of his generation, including Nikki Sudden, Henry Rollins & Lydia Lunch. His was a singular talent, cut short by an untimely death in 2009.”

No word on further screenings yet, but if there’s any creative justice in this world, Autoluminescent will eventually be shown internationally and run the festival circuit. Fingers crossed, anyway.

Previously on Coilhouse:

HTRK: Work (work, work)

After the tragic death of bassist Sean Stewart last year, the remaining members of Australia’s HTRK –Nigel Yang and Jonnine Standish– have continued to record as a duo. Their latest release, Work (work, work), marks the beginning of a new route.

HTRK’s debut album, Marry Me Tonight (2009), produced by The Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard, was a modern take on the familiar musical connection between Berlin and Melbourne, a route frequented before by Howard himself, Nick Cave, Anita Lane, Phil Shöenfelt and other heroes of sultry, sticky new wave. Acute guitar structures and thick, uneasy basslines added an aggressively shuddering, no-wave influenced quality; Standish’s detached, blasé vocals completed the impression of intriguing discomfiture.


HTRK vocalist and co-composer Jonnine Standish, wearing Poltock & Walsh.

Work (work, work) is a different story, devoid of previous aggression, and filled instead with aloof blankness and withering instances of resignation. The music draws from popular retro-futuristic sources, exploring an imaginarium of digital decay, postindustrial wastelands, soulless end-of-days decadence and chemical cures for chronic anhedonia. There are echoes of mid-90s dystopian reverie, in which humans seek respite from their growing boredom and anxiety in cyberscapes or mechanical sex practices or drug delusions… although HTRK paints these millennial fears in more fashionable dress, using a production palette of all the sounds currently en vogue. Work (work, work) presents indifferent vocals, deeply steeped in slowly pouring, liquid-metal synths and distant waves of guitar noise. The songs, languidly spinning, encourage the listener to melt them together into a thick soup. Or paraffin. Or diesel oil.

The downtempo qualities can even evoke an image of post-2000 trip hop: washed out soul, dub influences, marijuana-induced laziness. Work (work, work) maintains  just as suffocatingly stuffy an atmosphere – and becomes equally as decorative as trip hop eventually grew to be. At times, it sounds like a nihilistic version of electronic sentimentalists and mood creators like The XX. The band’s new music has an oddly warm quality, yet it’s a warmth more resembling an engine cooling down than a sentimental smile.


Press photo: Nigel Yang & Jonnine Standish.

Purchase Work (work, work) and other HTRK output at your local indie record shop, or directly through their record label, Ghostly International.

Upcoming HTRK Tour Dates:

  • Sept 06 Portland OR – Mississippi Studios
  • Sept 07 San Francisco CA – Public Works
  • Sept 11 Los Angeles CA – The Echo
  • Sept 14 New York NY – Home Sweet Home
  • Sept 17 Brooklyn NY – Secret Project Robot
  • Oct 12 Krakow PL – Unsound Festival
  • Oct 24 London UK – The Garage
  • Oct 30 Kortrijk BE – Sonic City Festival

BTC: Animal Beat Box

Australian animator/musician Damon Gameau and his cutting-edge team of cut n’ pasters just won top prize at the 2011 TROPFEST for this adorable (not to mention highly addictive!) animated shout-out to the animal kingdom.


Via Ariana, ‘cos she’s awesome.

There are plenty of other incredible indie shorts on TROPFEST‘s YouTube channel, go check ‘em out.

The MegaMen are MegaRad

Via DJ Dead Billy comes this live 1983 performance of “Designed for Living” by an obscure Brisbane, AU band called The MegaMen. Watch, listen and rejoice as three elegant new romantics take the Bandaged Bear Telethon by storm.


Singer: Xhian Behm. Keyboardist: Mark Love. Duct-taped snare drum tamer: Lance Leopard. [via]

Billy professes to being nonplussed by certain aspects of the performance, namely The MegaMen’s mega-bitchy lyrics. Your mileage may vary: personally, I find their immaculate Nagelesque coifs, perfected sneers and lissome, synchronized dance moves impossible to resist. And really, when you think about it, don’t lines like “I see your pain and find it funny / You gave me love and I took your money” go together with disdainful high-kicks [2:39] and queenly mic-cord flips [2:42] like ebony eyeliner and ivory skin foundation? RAWR. Love.

Rowland S. Howard: Autoluminescent

Here’s an extended trailer for a documentary feature in production on the late, great musician Rowland S. Howard:

Looks like it’s going to be a phenomenal biography. Produced by Ghost Pictures, Autoluminescent features candid conversations about the man’s gutwrenchingly beautiful guitar-playing and his tumultuous life with everyone from Nick Cave to Lydia Lunch to Nick Zinner to Gudrun Gut to Henry Rollins to Mick Harvey to Thurston Moore to Jim Sclavunos… brandishing a banana.

It’s currently slated for a Summer 2011 release. HELL YEAH.

Stunning Vintage Photos from Sydney’s Police Museum

Recently, the French photography/arts blog, La boite verte, posted a breathtaking series of vintage photographs of dusty, down-on-their-luck Antipodeans passing reproachfully through their country’s penal system back in the day.

They’re pictures from the Sydney Justice & Police Museum archives. Some of the documented lawbreakers seem sad, ashamed, or a bit mentally unhinged. Other portrait subjects remain defiantly cheerful–  chins up and shoulders back as if to say “So it goes. I do what I have to do.” All of these images are a mule-kick to the heart.

Many more after the jump. Peruse the full series here. Via m1k3y, thanks.

EDIT/ADDENDUM: The original text of this post has been corrected. These are “photographs of commitment” from the Syndey J&P Museum’s archive (1912 – 1964). “The portraits were taken on glass plate negatives and analyzed with high resolution to show the quality of the photograph of the police.” [via]

Related Coilhouse posts:


Was this gent perhaps arrested for cross-dressing? Such a surreal, timeless photo…