The “Spirit Bomb” of Harajuku Culture

Featured previously on Coilhouse for her debut music video Pon Pon Pon, 19-year-old blogger-turned-singer Caroline Charonplop Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (also known is Kyary, or Carrie Pam) is back with a new music video for her single Tsukema Tsukeru.

According to Super Happy Awesome, the song is all about the application, appreciation, and effects of false eyelashes. Kicking off the video with a sparkly-lashed wink to Kanye’s Power (which was also parodied to great effect by Freddie Wong), Kyary celebrates the art of eyelash extension through lyrics (“It’s the magic in a type of eyelash / My confidence changes, the way I see the world changes”), choreography (plenty of jazz hands emulating the batting of full lashes), set design (with some terrifying CGI depictions of the (lash-bedecked) Hamsa Hand floating in the background), and, perhaps most potently, costume design (featuring an extra head on top of her wig wearing lashes, a rather anatomical-looking corset decorated with an eye pendant, and two giant false eyelashes on her boobs).

The same team that created Pon Pon Pon was responsible for Tsukema Tsukeru. The song was produced by Yasutaka Nakata, one half of the electronic duo capsule. The video was art-directed by Sebastian Masuda, a pioneer of “kawaii culture” who also founded Harajuku fashion label %6DOKIDOKI. Masuda and Kyary also recently collaborated on an exhibition titled Table of Dreams.

In describing his first meeting and subsequent collaboration with Kyary, Nakata calls her “the ‘spirit bomb’ of Harajuku culture.” (The spirit bomb, the translator explains, “refers to an attack in the classic anime ‘Dragon Ball’, which channels the energy of surrounding life forms into a powerful sphere.”) Kyary’s success, writes Nakata, lies in her ability to infect people with enthusiasm for her projects. “I think it’s because everyone who gathers around Kyary feels like, ‘if I were with Kyary, I’d be able to express things that are new to me.’ That is, of course, how I feel too. So it’s different from a collaboration, and – to tell the truth – even saying that I produce her has a different meaning. The closest I can get is saying, ‘I’m doing it just for the fun of it.’ I feel like Kyary has this power in her to involve people that way.”

See also:

[via Nicole Aptekar]

Jiz – A Very Special Drug Episode

Hot off the presses, a brand-new episode of Jiz: the bizarre, hilarious, raunchily dubbed version of 80s cartoon Jem and the Holograms. Where the original theme song was “Exciting adventures, fashion and fame / Once you’re a Jem girl, you’re never the same,” the Jiz refrain goes something like: “Trannies and drag queens doing cocaine / Once you’re a Jiz whore you’re never the same.” And that about sums it up.

So here it is: the Jiz drug special. “I know what you’re thinking,” writes Jiz creator Sienna D’Enema. ”Isn’t every episode a drug episode? Seriously though, Jiz gets cut off from her Electronic Drug Dealer. Witness her descent into madness.”

If this is your first exposure to Jiz, check out some of the older episodes, starting with the canonical Abortion Episode, in which Jiz is pro-choice. Really, really pro-choice:

Teen Goth

Coilhouse contibutor Angeliska Polacheck hosts a monthly new wave/old school goth night called Exquisite Corpse, in Austin, Texas. She originally posted this exposition into her errant youth as inspiration for this month’s theme: TEEN GOTH. The original posts can be seen in their entirety here and here

This is Cinamon. I remember seeing her on the very same day, though I didn’t take this photograph of her. I was probably 12 at the time, and as I passed by her on The Drag down by Sound Exchange, the trajectory of my life changed forever. I was completely mesmerized by this vision in black tatters, a gorgeous alien-wraith who seemed like an apparition drifting down a banal sidewalk in the bright Texas sun. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I stopped and told her how amazing I thought she was, and she was so sweet to me. I’ve held this photo dear for years, a treasured gift from a mutual friend. She was such a huge influence on not only my style, but also for scores of others, (maybe even yours!)Cinamon was the original inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s Death character from the Sandman series. Her friend Mike Dringenberg drew her years before, and by an odd twist of chance (or fate), this woman unwittingly helped shape the style of scads of wee gothlings. Cheers to you, Cinamon – you continue to inspire and astound!

This was me at maybe 15 or 16? It was for a fashion show at the old Club 404, a legendary big gay bar from back in the day here in Austin. I was total monster-child jail bait, who spent most of my time scampering around in the woods on drugs wishing I wasn’t human, poring over Elfquest and Sandman comics and Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu trilogy. I made my outfit in five minutes out of electrical tape, eyeliner, wire and black tulle. Oh, and a thong. Heaven forbid that should I ever spawn a girl-child as naughty as I was! With any luck, I’ll end up with a Saffy.


(photo by Monte McCarter)

At the tender age of barely 17, I became the armed spokesmodel for FringeWare Review’s book catalogue. This involved posing in my underpants and various getups made of rubber and dollparts with books and guns. Real guns. That’s totally an actual Uzi or Tech-9 or whatever the hell, too. I was super blessed to be part of FringeWare when it was around – it was a strange and magical era.

Vinicius Quesada’s “Blood Piss Blues” Series


“telemptyness”

Vinicius Quesada is a collage/street artist from São Paulo, Brazil. In 2010, he created a series of dystopian images titled Blood Piss Blues, “with real blood.

The images suggest a world in which the peak oil crisis has occurred, where children play in dismantled subway cars and where dense, polluted cities house homeless refugeessword-wielding geisha and… psychedelic cats. At least that’s one interpretation.

The paintings appear to be large and incredibly detailed; here is one tiny detail of the mega-cityscape, and another photo of one of the images wheat-pasted on Quesada’s wall. More images after the jump, and even more on Flickr. [via Surrogate Self]


“little kids playing on the subway”

Things To Do When You’re Bored: Stacking 3118 Coins

I’ve no idea what led this young man to the idea of stacking 3118 coins upon a single dime. Perhaps, as alluded to in the title of this post, he was simply bored. Perhaps he had though long and hard about, what he perceived to be, a lack of coin-stacking research, a gap in the understanding of coin storage. Perhaps he simply got his hands on some grade A marijuana. We will never know. What we do know is that, regardless of the reasons, he ends up with 3118 coins, impressively stacked on a single dime after seven, time-lapsed hours. Isn’t that enough?

The Friday Afternoon Movie: 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s

Another week another FAM. Time to FAM it up FAM style. FAM to the MAX! FAMtacular FAMmery.

Ok, that’s enough of that. (Editors Note: Please PLEASE, stop drinking at work.)

Today we present 1979′s 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s, directed by Gary Weis of All You Need Is Cash and Saturday Night Live fame. I first found this movie three years ago and it still fascinates me. Following two gangs from the South Bronx, the Savage Skulls and the Nomads, it provides a fascinating snapshot of New York as it limped out of one of it’s worst decades. It plays much better as a time capsule, I think, then a gang documentary. If you ever wondered how anyone could come up with the aesthetics of a movie like The Warriors, here’s your answer.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: Pon Pon Pon

Budget for this music video:

  • Toys: $350
  • Fine Harajuku fashions: $400
  • Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner: $1.49
  • Fake fruit: $15
  • After Effects: Free
  • Drugs: $232,598,231,142

This is fashion blogger and singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu singing Pon Pon Pon, produced by Shibuya-kei duo Capsule. Lisa Frank on acid. Everybody dance! [via aerialdomo]

On the Occasion of Walter Benjamin’s 119th Birthday

The treasure-dispensing giant in the green forest or the fairy who grants one wish
- they appear to each of us at least once in a lifetime. But only
Sunday’s children remember the wish they made, and so it is
only a few who recognize its fulfillment in their lives. – Walter Benjamin


Benjamin Birthday Cake! Photoshop by Nadya.

There is a Yiddish expression offered on someone’s birthday which is affectionate and contains a subtle blessing: “Bis hundert und zwanzig.” In other words, people are wished a life that extends to their 120th year. So what should we do if someone dear (if not near) somehow turns 120? What are they wished then and each year thereafter? I offer these questions as a point of entry for considering Walter Benjamin, a writer whose life ended in suicide as he contemplated his chances of eluding the Nazi Gestapo some seventy-three years before this question may have become material for those around him.  Today marks the 119th anniversary of Benjamin’s birth – the last time someone could have addressed him with the wish of living to 120.

Walter Benjamin was a literary critic, philosopher, memoirist, and collector during Germany’s ill-fated Weimar Republic. Among his adventures were sojourns from Berlin to Moscow to witness the building of history and to Marseilles to smoke hashish and to Riga to have his love rejected. His last seven years were spent in exile while his works were banned and burned in his native land. Under other conditions, Benjamin’s Francophile desires would have found their easy appeasement in Paris, but the Third Reich cast an increasingly tall shadow and he became, tragically, a prisoner in the country of his dreams. In his forty-eight year life, Benjamin ran with Bertolt Brecht, Rainer Maria Rilke, Asja Lacis, Theodor and Gretel Adorno, Siegfried Kracauer, Ernst Bloch, Hannah Arendt, Georges Bataille, Leo Strauss, Max Brod and Gershom Scholem. And in many ways, Benjamin’s thought is a playful and poetic montage of the ideas of his associates – a “constellation” of Romanticism, Idealism, Marxism, Surrealism, and Jewish mysticism that is more than its unlikely parts: “Satan is a dialectician, and a kind of spurious success…betrays him, just as does the spirit of gravity.”


Einbahnstrasse by Sasha Stone (1928)

Benjamin brought to this heady mix his fascination, at once childish and insightful, for art and artifacts as relics containing clues to history. The scion of an antiquities dealer, Benjamin discerned an impending revolutionary–cum-spiritual cataclysm by contemplating and indexing paintings, books, and the most banal debris of economic life he could find, regarding them as might wily Detective Columbo if he was prodigiously stoned. As Bloch wrote of Benjamin’s book One Way Street, “when the current cabaret passes through a surrealist philosophy, what emerges into the light of day from the debris of meanings…is a kaleidoscope of a different sort.” The spooky thing is that Benjamin’s apocalyptic vision of lawmaking described in 1921 as “bloody power for its own sake” came to pass in many ways a little more than a decade later.

Walter Benjamin lived in a milieu of such vastly assimilated German-Jewish life that he had little formal understanding of Jewish culture, Yiddish, Hebrew, or even the Jewish religion.  He did, however, harbor an abiding interest in Jewish mysticism and mused furtively over those bits of religion and culture he encountered.  And he certainly seemed to have found spiritual sanction for his already-existing fetishization of objects in the Kabbalist’s meditations on words, names, and numbers.  According to this mystical orientation, influenced by neo-Platonism, reality has multiple dimensions – like a faceted diamond – only a few of which are directly accessible to us. We may approach them only indirectly, as they appear to us as abstract notions like numbers, letters, names, and sentiments. In such times as Benjamin playfully, and perhaps also earnestly, speculated on the mystical significance of language and numbers, he may have come to consider 119 alongside its constitutive outside, the number 120, the last year we can legitimately hope for someone else.  If so, it is entirely likely that Benjamin, a thinker who invited the mystical, would have been intrigued by the delimiting function of 120 and may have further speculated on 121 as a possible portal to other dimensions.  Operating, then, as a detective, Benjamin may have investigated the year 120 as a future crime scene – a time-place where this phrase will be eternally transcended. Looking outward, 119 years of life may have been considered the furthermost edge of his generation, a remote vantage from which to contemplate the eternity of space, like a balcony atop “Saturn’s ring.” Upon returning from such reveries, Benjamin would hopefully have finally mentioned that the actual root of this folk expression comes from the biblical datum that Moses lived to be 120. This, then, could have been followed by an analogy that is possibly both specious and interesting, like noting that Moses and Benjamin never completed their exodus from brutality.

The wish that one live beyond the culturally sanctioned, and quite generous, lifespan of 120 is redolent of the posthumous reception of Benjamin’s work throughout the humanities. The fervent interest in his work throughout the humanities since the 1980s is so unlikely as to seem almost a form of Messianic fulfillment on an individual scale. After all, his life was unfulfilled in most respects. He was a failed academic, a divorcee whose affair was an awkward mess, a minor radio personality whose voice was never recorded, and a writer whose masterworks were unfinished or forever lost in history. Years later, his work even achieved “fame” on its own terms when, in 1969, his most significant essay was mistranslated as “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Harry Zohn. For Benjamin, a work has achieved “fame” when it its translation transmits information not contained in the original. Two generations of scholars and art critics referenced his most significant essay through a misleading title, when now, as if language shifted its tectonic plates under our feet, the essay is emphatically translated as “Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility.”  In the digital age, articles like this one are re-posted with attention to errata, such as mistaking today for his 121st anniversary, whereas it is only his 119th.  If only Zohn had used WordPress his translation would have been unfinished and arguably better for it.  Perhaps as the author of that essay – however titled – Benjamin would have come to consider fame in the age of American Idol in terms of having a finger puppet refrigerator magnet in one’s visgage. “All that is holy is profaned,” sayeth Marx. What does familiarity breed? So much for the “aura” of the author, eh?

In his essay on “The Metaphysics of Youth” Benjamin contemplates one’s diary as a temporal domain, an inner life expressed in writing which begins in medias res, with life already in motion, and which can never be concluded by an author whose death occludes continued authorship. The project is never finished and the life, as written in the diary, exists in its own sort of time, like the life the mind, an eternal moment delimited by birth and death, and unable to experience either. Benjamin’s life is thus suspended within the pages of his books, essays, memoirs, and personal effects – as in his Paris address book shown below. Something of his life may sometimes seem to flash in our minds as we read him, just as Benjamin once suggested that art and artifacts can communicate something of their creation in flashes. In this sense, Benjamin’s work has escaped the bounds of the moment in which it was written, although it has yet to allow its readers to tear the fabric of time and usher in the Messianic moment of utter destructiveness in which history is fulfilled and completed.

Of course, I cannot literally wish Walter Benjamin 120 years of existence because I have no known way of communicating it to him. I can, however, wish it for him in spirit, and I do. Whether this wish, now communicated in language, effectively gives him happiness, is beyond the scope of this essay to determine, but my wish that it do so has some affinity with Benjamin’s own work. In his essay, “On Language as Such and on the Language of Man,” Benjamin posits language as constitutive of thought and life as we know it – not merely a conduit for them – as, in his example, a divine speech act once set the universe in motion with illumination: “Let there be light.” Likewise, Benjamin may have noted that the wish that someone live to 120 implies a blessing, as in the Yiddish expression: “From your mouth to God’s ear.” As this is the last time I may properly wish Walter a 120th year,  I am ever-more concerned that it take the form of a blessing where numbers and sentiments are tangible – on the other side of language.

This essay is dedicated to Lionel Ziprin, z”l.

Ataraxia: The State of Relaxation

Via Al Ridenour, the fine ‘n’ twisted mind behind Art of Bleeding, we are introduced to this vintage promotional film for tranquilizers:

Youtube documentarian Miquel writes: “This is quite odd; laboratory bottles with faces, a strange crystalline drug that turns red water blue, disembodied arms and a very “Bob” looking salesman. Take your pills & relax! ‘Of all the states across this nation, the happiest by far is the state of relaxation.’”

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.