Japanese Fart Scroll from 1847

WOW. Wow…

Over at Tofugu, author Hashi states:

I was doing research for another post a while back, and found something a bit…unusual. It was an old Japanese scroll about farting. No, you didn’t misread that last sentence. The whole scroll, which is called He-Gassen (“The Fart Battle”) is just about people farting. Farting at other people, farting at cats, farting off of horses, farting into bags; just farting everywhere. [...] I kept expecting to find some deep cultural explanation as to why these guys made whole scrolls about farting. But I think it really just boils down to one universal truth: farts are funny. We can pretend that our senses of humor are more sophisticated than that, but let’s face it: when somebody lets one rip, you’re going to chuckle.

Couldn’t have put it better myself!

Click this link to read and see more. Click it now. Trust me. You may not know it yet, but you need more 19th Century Japanese fart scroll in your life. Delve deep into this dubious cleft of cryptohistory.

{Via Jessica Joslin, with fragrant thanks!)

Ed Sanders: Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts (1962-1965)


“Fuck You” Opening Party is tomorrow (Thursday, February 16th) from 6pm-9pm. Exhibition closes Thursday, March 8th. Boo-Hooray is open every day from 11am-6pm.

There’s a gallery space down on Canal St. in NYC called Boo-Hooray; it’s a splendid place dedicated to 20th/21st century counterculture ephemera, photography, and book arts. Tomorrow evening (Thursday, Feb 16th) is the opening night for their most recent exhibition: a comprehensive collection of publications from Ed Sanders’ legendary Fuck You Press, including a complete run of Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts.

Ed Sanders‘ an unofficial patron saint of the 20th century underground who has often been referred to as “the bridge between the Beat and Hippie Generations”.  More specifically, he’s a poet, singer, activist, author, and publisher. Any way you cut ‘n’ paste it, this man broke the mold and the mimeograph!

Boo-Hooray’s exhibition of fabulous Fuck You-ness will commemorate the publication of Sanders’ characteristically feisty, funny memoir, Fug You: An Informal History of the Peace Eye Bookstore, the Fuck You Press, the Fugs, and Counterculture in the Lower East Side (Da Capo Press).

Sanders shares a bit of history about his publication:

“In February of 1962 I was sitting in Stanley’s Bar at 12th and B with some friends from the Catholic Worker. We’d just seen Jonas Mekas’s movie Guns of the Trees, and I announced I was going to publish a poetry journal called Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts. There was a certain tone of skepticism among my rather inebriated friends, but the next day I began typing stencils, and had an issue out within a week. I bought a small mimeograph machine, and installed it in my pad on East 11th, hand-cranking and collating 500 copies, which I gave away free wherever I wandered. (…)

Fuck You was part of what they called the Mimeograph Revolution, and my vision was to reach out to the “Best Minds” of my generation with a message of Gandhian pacifism, great sharing, social change, the expansion of personal freedom (including the legalization of marijuana), and the then-stirring messages of sexual liberation.

I published Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts from 1962 through 1965, for a total of thirteen issues. In addition, I formed a mimeograph press which issued a flood of broadsides and manifestoes during those years, including Burroughs’s Roosevelt After Inauguration, Carol Bergé’s Vancouver Report, Auden’s Platonic Blow, The Marijuana Review, and a bootleg collection of the final Cantos of Ezra Pound.

Other contributors to Fuck You included Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Julian Beck, Ray Bremser, Lenore Kandel, Charles Olson, Tuli Kupferberg, Joel Oppenheimer, Peter Orlovsky, Philip Whalen, Herbert Huncke, Frank O’Hara, Leroi Jones, Diane DiPrima, Gary Snyder, Robert Kelly, Judith Malina, Carl Solomon, Gregory Corso, Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, Michael McClure, Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, Gilbert Sorrentino, and countless others.

It was a ‘zine “dedicated to free expression, defying taboo subjects, celebrating sexual liberation and the use of psychedelics years before the Summer of Love. Sanders and his collaborators bridged the Beats of the Fifties and the counterculture of the late Sixties, and helped define many of the differences between the two—the latter building on the breakthroughs initiated by the former.”

The Fuck You opening party is happening Thursday, February 16th – 6pm-9pm. Sanders will be reading from/signing copies of his book. Exhibition closes Thursday, March 8th. Boo-Hooray is open every day from 11am-6pm.

New Yorkers! Don’t miss this! (And by all means, report back in comments.)

(Hat tip to William Gibson.)

Thomas Negovan’s TED Talk “By Popular Demand”

Our dear and charming and preternaturally intelligent friend Mister Thomas Negovan was recently invited to give a TED talk in the midwest United States wherein he shared, among more personal revelations, “how unearthing obsolete technologies teaches us about our future.” Here it is:

Thomas, in addition to making music and running the Century Guild art gallery, regularly lectures all over the world on subjects ranging from Art Nouveau to Weimar-era Berlin cabaret; his talk on the subject of populism and technology is both informative and self-assured.

As one who shares Thomas’ interest in archaic technology and antique musical instruments, and as a fellow wax cylinder experimenter, I found the live/real-time demonstration of the wax cylinder machine especially intriguing!


Thomas’ sexy wax cylinder player, playing to the crowd at our fundraising Ball last summer in NYC.

“The Centaurs” by Winsor McCay (1921)

The advent of animated features and silent films remains one of the most significant accomplishments of the 20th century. Sadly, before celluloid preservation standards were set in place, much of the early studio output of the 1920s was lost or damaged beyond repair. One of those pieces is an animated film, The Centaurs, produced by Windsor McCay in 1921. Of the sole print, which disintegrated due to negligent storage, only about 90 seconds have been salvaged.

The animation style is quite beautiful, very influenced by the Art Nouveau motifs of the times, recalling Jugendstil illustrations, like this one, in particular.

There is no solid indication available anywhere about McCay’s original intentions for the feature. Was there to be a plot, or did he mean for it to be a romantic, picturesque montage of frolicking centaurs? (Nothing wrong with the latter.) At least we have this little bit to enjoy.

People And Parcels, Sent Via Rails And Propellers

Gaze in awe upon the majesty of the Bennie Railplane, designed and built by Scotsman George Bennie (more details about which can be found linked below). Capable of producing a a steady 60 brake horsepower, it was projected it would be able to reach sustained speeds of 120 mph. By 1930, a prototype of this weird not-a-monorail was running on a 130 yard test track at Milngavie near Glasgow, transporting thrill-seekers from one end to the other. By 1937, however, Bennie had gone bankrupt (no doubt due to the fact that his machine only traveled 130 yards) and, in 1950, the line was demolished for scrap, thereby closing this ridiculously impractical great chapter in land-based, propeller driven transportation.

Not long after the Railplane began its brief service, another strange wonder emerged from Europe: Germany’s Air Torpedo. Developed by Richard Pfautz, it was meant to transport mail from one side of the country to the other. The claim was that such a trip could be made in 40 minutes, the sleek, propeller driven bullet riding on rails (you can see a larger image here). The cost? Six cents. And here we are, sending our mail by truck and plane when, instead, we could be building air torpedo rails. Shameful.

Via Modern Mechanix and Gear Wheels

The Tokyo that Tumblr Forgot

When I saw this striking image of Tokyo while riffling through my RSS feeds, my heart stopped. Supposedly, it’s a still from a forgotten video game made in 1995.

There’s something about this cityscape. I’ve been coming back to stare at the large version of it for two days now, marveling at all the details: that puffy-cheeked man and that lobster, the people on the streets, the density of the buildings, the beautiful pixel weave that makes up the clouds, and that ominous yellow moon. I want to know the story of this game world and its makers. If it’s a still from a mid-90s video game, very few people would have considered that art at the time. Now, in the world we live in, I could easily see this image selling at an art opening. If it turned out that this image was done by a contemporary pop artist, emulating/exaggerating the aesthetics of retro games, I would not be surprised. However, this image feels even more compelling to me precisely because it’s not that, but a forgotten relic, a lost gem, a genuine artifact.

Tumblr tells me (for once) that this striking image is from a video game called “Power Slave,” produced by Jellyfish Software in 1995. I’m not sure if I believe that; the only game titled Power Slave game I could find was this first-person shooter set in Egypt, released by Lobotomy Soft in 1997. Nothing in the game descriptions suggested the appearance of this scene. I checked out a couple of Power Slave playthroughs - not all 17 levels, but enough, including the intro and end, to be fairly sure that this scene was never among them. And the only Jellyfish Soft release that came up in my searches was Aerokid, an aviation game for kids, released in 1998. But then I read somewhere that on the Saturn conversion of PowerSlave included a hidden game. After some Googling, I found that name: Death Tank Zwei. With a name like that, I thought it sounded promising. But after looking through the entire game thanks to some guy’s research video for a Port-to-PC project on YouTube, I came to the conclusion that this game wasn’t the source of the image, either.

And that’s where the trail grew cold. Maybe I missed something. Maybe it’s just another beautiful Tumblr scrap I’ll never find the source of. Anyone have a clue?

Update: mystery solved, thanks to Coilhouse reader Fmtownsmarty. It’s Power Slave, a hentai first-person adventure/strategy game from Japan. “Tetsuya is a rather ordinary Japanese teenager, who prefers hanging out with his sweetheart Rika than going to school. His passion are 3D video games. The newest game machine which allows the player to completely submerge into the virtual world, modeled according to his desires, has captured his heart. But one thing is strange: lately, Tetsuya keeps seeing himself as a killer and rapist. Dreams begin to haunt him. Is this just a side-effect of the game, or does he have a dark side he knows nothing about?” Oh, Japan, don’t you ever change. <3

The Paris Flat That Time Forgot

Via Daily Telegraph / How To Be A Retronaut / Thomas Negovan:

“Mrs de Florian never returned to her Paris flat after the war and died at the age of 91 in 2010. Behind the door, under a thick layer of dust lay a treasure trove of turn-of-the-century objects including a painting by the 19th century Italian artist Giovanni Boldini.”

“Entering the untouched, cobweb-filled flat in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, one expert said it was like stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty, where time had stood still since 1900.”

“‘There was a smell of old dust,’ said Olivier Choppin-Janvry, who made the discovery. Walking under high wooden ceilings, past an old wood stove and stone sink in the kitchen, he spotted a stuffed ostrich and a Mickey Mouse toy dating from before the war, as well as an exquisite dressing table…”

(Read more at the Daily Telegraph.) 

Gorgeous, Fascinating “Blade Runner” Con Reel

Apparently, this reel has not been shown anywhere since it ran the con circuit in 1982; not in screenings, not on any of the DVDs.* And… it’s… guh… braingasm.


*I’ve been informed it is, in fact, included on a recent Blu-Ray/DVD edition.

“One of the Blade Runner Convention Reels featuring interviews with Ridley Scott, Syd Mead and Douglas Trumbull about making Blade Runner universe. This 16 mm featurette, made by M. K. Productions in 1982, is specifically designed to circulate through the country’s various horror, fantasy and science fiction conventions. ”

Via Ed Brubaker.

Nazi Sex Dolls Redux

I would venture that there are few phrases that stimulate the brain-meats of journalists or bloggers more than “Nazi sex dolls”. It is an idea so rife with possibility that it is nigh irresistible. The Daily Mail, in fact, just recently found itself under its powerful sway when it published this article, detailing the findings of one Graeme Donald, author of Mussolini’s Barber: And Other Stories of the Unknown Players who Made History Happen, who stumbled upon this tantalizing bit of information while researching the history of the Barbie doll. Barbie, in case you do not know, was originally modeled on Lilli (pictured here courtesy of The Daily Mail), a 1950s German sex doll.

Donald claims to have uncovered evidence relating to the “Borghild Project”, a program set up by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in order to make a doll who could satisfy the desires of their soldiers on the front and, in turn, help them to avoid being sidelined by the venereal diseases passed onto them by (The Daily Mail specifies) French prostitutes.

The dolls were apparently trialled in Nazi-occupied Jersey at the German barracks in St Hellier.

After being refined, Himmler was so impressed he immediately ordered 50 of them.

However, at the beginning of 1942 he changed his mind and the whole project was axed and any evidence was destroyed in the Allied bombing of Dresden.

The story came from German sculptor Arthur Rink, one of the men on the team which designed the doll at the Racial Hygiene and Demographic Biology Research Unit.

The plan referred to the dolls as “gynoids” and were said to be “smaller than life-size” (again, quoting The Daily Mail).

So, you can see the allure here, right? Hitler commissioned lilliputian sex dolls for Nazi troops. How could you not want to publish that story? Everyone wants to run that! It possesses a bizarre, fucked up perfection. And so, people have. More importantly, people did. In 2005. A quick search shows that Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin fell under the siren spell of Nazi sex dolls (via Fleshbot who, in true, blogger fashion, appended a question mark to their headline to give themselves an out (NSFW)) just a month shy of 6 years ago. She was quickly disappointed thirteen days later, when it was argued that the story was, instead, a hoax. She was, perhaps, just as disappointed as I was when I Googled “Nazi Sex Dolls” upon receiving this link to see if I could beat Boing Boing to the punch. DAMN YOU JARDIN!

So now the question is: Is it a hoax? Has Graeme Donald found actual proof of the fabled “Borghild Project” or have both he, and The Daily Mail, and about a dozen others (including Gawker, no question mark this time) simply given in to the temptation of writing about lilliputian Nazi sex dolls, something for which I can hardly blame them? Could it be that I have become part of some sort of recursive hoaxing? I very much hope it is the first. History that weird should always be true.

Thanks, Pete!

Cabinet Cards / Storydress II by Christine Elfman

At first glance, this haunting collodion print looks like an aged Victorian carte de visite. If you look closely, you’ll notice something odd: the dress is trimmed with scraps of paper with typewritten notes. This is a papier-mache sculpture titled Storydress II, designed by artist Christine Elfman. The dress is made of stories recorded from her great-grandmother’s autobiographical reminiscences. On her site, Elfman elaborates on the process and motivations behind this piece:

Finding unknown relatives in my family photograph collection, and noticing old photographs of anonymous people in antique stores, I was taken by how many people were forgotten regardless of photography’s intention to “Secure the shadow, ‘ere the substance fades away.” The older the picture, the more forlorn the subject appeared to me. Holding their image, I was impressed with their absence. Storydress II tries to show this underlying subject of photographic portraiture. The 19th century cabinet card is turned inside out, revealing the presence of absence in a medium characterized by rigid detail and anonymity.  The figure of reminiscence, cast in plaster, parallels the poetic immobility of the head clamp, used in early photography to prevent movement during long exposures, aptly defined by Barthes as  “the corset of my imaginary existence”. The life size cast figure wears a paper mache dress made of family stories: recorded, torn up, and glued back together again.

via hypnerotomachi(n)a