In addition to providing an overview of both the documentary and vogue ball culture (both past and present) the NPR feature includes testimonies from Big Freedia, Light Asylum, Zebra Katz, Del Marquis, and many others. A quick, great read. It’s also exciting to discover that the documentary –which has been, for decades, fairly difficult to track down a decent copy of– is now readily available on iTunes and Netflix Streaming.
The realm of Paris Is Burning: resonant and radiant as it ever was.
For the past two years, Kevin McTurk –a world-renowned cinematic effects artist– has been hard at work on a breathtaking personal project called The Narrative of Victor Karloch. McTurk describes it as a ”Victorian ghost story puppet film”.
Featuring the voices of Christopher Lloyd, Elijah Wood, and Maurice LaMarche, Karloch combines bunraku style rod puppets, shadow puppetry, and an array of traditional in-camera effects to present a tale from from the journal pages of one Victor Karloch: weatherbeaten alchemist, scholar, and ghost hunter. This film, very much a labor of love for McTurk and his crew, was made possible by grants from Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams Film Series and from The Jim Henson Foundation.
Photo provided by Kevin KcTurk.
As you can see from the above preview, it’s a stunning piece of work. And did I mention that the film’s score was provided by Zoe Keating, Lustmord, and… our very own Meredith Yayanos? Yes!
This Thursday, April 19, at Meltdown Comics/NerdMelt Theater in Los Angeles, McTurk will be holding a sneak peek/wrap party reception. There will be a live marionette performance by Eli Presser (one of the film’s key puppeteers) and limited edition Narrative of Victor Karloch t-shirts (designed by comics legend Mike Mignola!) available for sale.
Congrats to all involved! Attendees of the wrap party are enthusiastically encouraged to report back in comments.
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.”)
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.
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.
Megan Rose Gedris’ comic Yu + Me is billed as a surreal lesbian romance- and it’s hard to say more than that with out spoiling it. In fact, this is one of those situations where, for some people, even mentioning the spoilers may spoil it. If you prefer stories in which things are what they seem, Yu + Me may not be your cuppa. But if you enjoy adventure, love, and a decadent proliferation of visual styles, then dive in. It’s a complete story, just short of 850 pages. Take a weekend and indulge.
Sometimes, when creative and inspired people get together to collaborate on making imagery in a specific vein that no one’s attempted before, a special kind of magic happens. Case in point, this elaborate photo series independently produced by Jessica Rowell of J-Chan Designs and photographer Nina Pak in cahoots with model Elizabeth Maiden:
Κατάρα της Αθηνάς, η μοίρα της Μέδουσας Αθηνάς: Elizabeth Maiden Μέδουσας: Jessica Rowell of J-Chan’s Designs Photography: Nina Pak Costume Design & Styling: J-Chan’s Designs Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Ancient Greek lore and steampunk culture clash, titan style, in a sumptuous mythos-meets-modernity photo series depicting the Goddess Athena (Elizabeth Maiden) and the Gorgon Medusa (Jessica Rowell).
According to legend, the once ravishing Medusa was cursed with a monstrous appearance after “seducing” Poseidon, Lord of the Sea, under the roof of Athena’s sacred temple. Hence, this series title (which, translated into English, means) “Athena’s curse, Medusa’s fate.”
Rowell pulled “inspiration from Desmond Davis’ 1981 film Clash of the Titans, then put an atemporal spin on things by incorporating several contemporary ingredients that “also felt industrial and familiar to alternative culture.”
“I had some kind of epiphany about not chasing something in the above-ground world. Something happened in me that I no longer wanted to be in a band that wanted to be famous and go on tour. I just wanted to do something that was ours. I guess it was firmly planting myself in the underground, not after some kind of success that my parents would like.
…In the olden days of New York they had bands and dancing. Dancing and performers of every kind — spoken word, circus, whatever — in the same venue. Places like the Mud Club or Danceteria had a lot of different spaces and a lot of different installations and all kinds of different people went.
And then this weird thing happened when it suddenly became all giant discos and little rock bars. And those people never went to the same place anymore. It seemed like when we started doing Rubulad that people really wanted to be in the same space. They wanted to watch a band and go dance. And be happy.”
Oh, loves. We cover a lot of micropatronage drives on da ‘Haus, but the Rubulad Kickstarter project is especially near and dear. They have been an indescribably huge inspiration to many, many people involved with Coilhouse.
What is Rubulad? Back in 1993, two lovely souls named Sari Rubinstein and Chris Thomas took out a lease on a 5,000 square foot basement in south Williamsburg. Maybe a dozen other people got in on that initial deal, mostly artists and musicians in need of a cheap communal space where they could spread out and work. They all started building up and decorating the space communally. Soon, it became a fun, subterranean hang-out location that drew all sorts of kindred spirits together for dinners, readings, rehearsals, etc.
After a while, Sari, Chris, and their cohorts started throwing parties to cover each month’s rent. Over the course of the next few years, Rubulad (cleverly named with touch-tone letters that corresponded to the space’s phone number)’s space began to evolve, to literally bloom (with vibrant paper flowers, glittering murals, rope vines, colored glass, paper mache sculptures), and the parties developed into these elaborately themed bohemian blow-outs. They. Are. Fucking. AMAZING. For seventeen years now…
(Hang on, let’s take a moment. Seventeen. YEARS.
…Rubulad has been instrumental in planning and throwing all kinds of events. They’ve already had to move their main warehouse space twice, but their warm, inviting DIY ethic has never faltered or changed; it’s only grown stronger.
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.
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.
There’s been a lot of intense stuff goin’ down in Oakland, California this week. In this post, Myles Boisen shares two more installments of his ongoing documentation and assessments of #OO with us: “SHUT DOWN”, which was written on November 3rd, 2011, after tens of thousands of protesters marched to the Port of Oakland, and “WHAT NEXT?”, which was sent out early this morning. -Mer
Port of Oakland SHUT DOWN
Wells Fargo SHUT DOWN
Bank of America SHUT DOWN
CitiBank SHUT DOWN
Comerica Bank SHUT DOWN
Chase Bank SHUT DOWN
Union Bank SHUT DOWN
Bank of the West SHUT DOWN
Nara Bank SHUT DOWN
T-Mobile SHUT DOWN
Burger King SHUT DOWN
Walgreen’s SHUT DOWN
Highlights of the Oakland general strike:
10 a.m. As I start reading news feeds I see Angela Davis is addressing the early morning crowd at 14th and Broadway. Unconfirmed rumors come and go that the Port of Oakland is already closed, with possible wildcat strike action and trucks unable to get through.
12 p.m. I arrive at Oscar Grant Plaza. On the way over radio coverage on KPFA-FM says that Wells Fargo bank is already shut down. People are streaming continuously toward downtown on foot and on bicycles. The crowd at 14th and Broadway is estimated at 5,000 or more. With friends I tour the area, photographing banks and corporate businesses that have shut their doors due to the strike. The crowd is made up of elders, working people, union representatives, teachers, religious leaders, and schoolchildren present with their parents.
By the BART station we meet Ethel, a senior citizen who is gathering signatures on a petition to end the death penalty in California. One member of our party – Phil, a well-read anarcho-syndicalist – has recently moved to Alameda County, and Ethel suggests that he can go to City Hall to get the requisite voter registration papers. Could City Hall possibly be open today? We go on a mission to find out.
Matthew’s latest project is The Anywhere Organ: a huge, mobile, MIDI-controlled pipe organ out of salvaged organ parts. Borgatti currently has almost 50 pipes running through an electronic system that can be played by anything from a keyboard to a laptop to a cell phone, and wants to scale up to create a “room shaking, space filling, world touring monster” that can be installed anywhere, turning any space into an opulent soundscape. Over on the Kickstarter page for this project, Matthew writes:
I’d like to make the Anywhere Organ as large, beautiful, and easy to play as possible. I’d like to create elaborate installations that make music in response to people dancing. I’d like to hybrid with musicians to make Bach concertos in abandoned buildings. I’d like to stun people with the power of this instrument, but I need your help to make that happen.
The Anywhere Organ has reached almost almost half his funding goal, and doesn’t have that much more to go. Rewards are still being revealed; the pipe organ brass knuckles (“for sorting out those Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven/Schubert debates”) are wonderful. Help make this happen!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second installment of musician, activist and citizen journalist Kim Boekbinder’s ongoing series for Coilhouse, “Occupy Everywhere”. Click here to read her introduction. Don’t miss Jeff Wengrofsky’s recent essay, “The Praise of Motherfuckers“, either. The blog’s #OWS scrapbook post is also being updated periodically with new links and pertinent clippings.
All photos and video in this post provided by Kim Boekbinder.
The participants of Occupy Wall Street have been denied the use of any amplification instruments – no microphones, no loudspeakers. So, to amplify a speech, they use “The People’s Mic”, a technique in which short sentences are repeated in waves (called “generations”) through the audience, sending the message further than the reach of one human voice.
It is quite powerful. It means the audience is listening carefully to learn what they will be repeating, then they repeat clearly what has been said. And because everything is repeated you hear each thing 2-4 times. Repetition has been a powerful pedagogical tool for a long time for a reason: our relationship to words changes when we use them ourselves.
The People’s Mic falls over sometimes, speech gets garbled, speakers get carried away and forget to wait for all the generations to iterate before starting their next line, but the mic is easily recalibrated when this happens.
The technique forces speeches to be made in short bursts which are easily articulated and quick to repeat. There is a rhythm, an art. It feels good to be part of the speech, to be repeating the sentences so that others can hear. We are all in this together. My favorite part is when the speaker introduces themselves.
“My name is Katie.” says the speaker.
“My name is Katie.” First generation of voices.
“My name is Katie.” Second generation of voices.
The weakness of The People’s Mic is that speeches are chopped up into bite size morsels which tend to sound extra “revolutionary.” Everything sounds like a big, epic, shouty thing. And the complex topics, the nuances of the Occupation, cannot be expressed easily in two to three word bursts. Taken as the sparks that are meant to begin conversations the speeches are wonderful: we all heard it, we all said it. Whether we agree or not we can now continue the discussion in smaller groups.
New amplification techniques will need to be found as the crowds grow and split, but for now it’s a great triumph over adversity. And it’s fun.
On Hand Signals
When the General Assembly meets the people use hand signals to convey how they feel about what is being said. The use of hand signals allows the speaker to continue talking without interruption, though the audience is still communicating their approval or disagreement.
Wiggling your fingers to display your agreement with a serious political issue feels silly, but this is a movement that is not afraid to be silly. Have you seen “Occupy Sesame Street”? It’s hilarious. Making fun of your own movement is an amazing tactic. Occupy Wall Street is very serious, but it also has a sense of humor. And who wants a revolution without laughter?