The Racist Undertones Of Marmaduke

WHITEPRIDETV.COM has a varied lineup of video content for the modern white supremacist to educate themselves and keep up on the latest in good old American racism. From This Is The Klan to The White Woman’s Perspective Thomas Robb and his group of camera wielding bigots cover the entire gamut of life as an ignorant douchebag. They also, thankfully, have some children’s programing to help Confederate flag waving parents educate their offspring in the proper manner.

The programming in question is The Andrew Show which is, in case you had not already figured it out, “A Show for White Kids” (Finally!). Plopping the blond-haired youth in front of a green-screened bookcase, WHITEPRIDETV.COM lets the little tyke go at it, tackling the issues that face white kids today. This particular episode deals with the film Marmaduke, an unremarkable film in nearly every way except for the fact that it is a metaphor for racial tension; specifically the denial of land to white people by people of other various and sundry races. So goes Andrew’s thesis, a thesis he does not expound upon his, presumably because his point is so self-evident even a child can see it.

It is an unfortunate reality that even the worst among the human race can procreate, taking an otherwise unfettered mind and twist it with their own, poisonous worldview. It is, perhaps, worse when they give them their own television show to parrot that moronic bile.

Via Videogum : The Daily What

The Books: Cold Freezin’ Night

Experimental musical duo The Books are highly thoughtful and empathic scavengers and re-interpreters who’ve been surprising and delighting audiences for over a decade now. Paul de Jong and Nick Zammuto’s songs –a strange melange of acoustic melodies (cello, guitar, banjo, etc.) spliced together with an ever-expanding library of “found sounds”– are dense with samples lifted from home recording cassettes plundered from thrift stores, as well as bootlegged video tapes. They also cut and paste sounds recorded from children’s toys and random non-musical objects to create looping percussive beds. The resulting music is off-kilter yet tightly controlled, and often unexpectedly danceable.

This chaos-wrangling, ephemera-pillaging style is well-represented visually by the music video for “Cold Freezin’ Night”, a weird 80s schoolyard disco taunt off their latest album, The Way Out:


via Dustykins once again. (Girl, you really gotta start blogging for us!)

History Of The USSR For Children

Coming from such an educationally backwards country I appreciate this brief history of the USSR told with the aide of LEGO mini-figs which explains that much of the Soviet Union’s establishment was the product of a strong desire for kisses. Likewise, “Everybody was afraid of him because of his moustaches that were tickling.” really helps put the brutal regime of Joseph Stalin into perspective.

The FAM: In The Realms Of The Unreal

Halloween is over and, having finally awoken from a glucose induced stupor, the FAM returns with a new offering, devoid of the supernatural thrills that occupied this space for the past two weeks. Today we present In the Realms of the Unreal, the 2004 documentary directed by Jessica Yu about famed outsider artist and reclusive crazy-person Henry Darger. Darger, born on April 12, 1892 was a janitor in Chicago who occupied a second-floor room on Chicago’s North Side, at 851 W. Webster Avenue, for forty years, beginning in 1930 until his death on April 13, 1973. It was only then that his landlords discovered what he had been up to all those years.

It turns out that Darger spent most of his free time writing and drawing. His magnum opus, and the work that would gain him the majority of his posthumous fame, is entitled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, a mammoth work comprised of 15,145 single-spaced, typed pages, several hundred illustrations, and a number of scroll-like paintings, all of which employ extensive use of images taken or traced from magazines and children’s books and an obvious transgender streak — the children found therein not only largely unclothed but also many in possession of male genitalia. This work was in addition to a 5,084 page autobiography entitled The History of My Life (which, incidentally, spends 4,672 pages on the fictional account of a tornado named “Sweetie Pie”), 10,000 handwritten pages of a second fictional work called Crazy House: Further Adventures in Chicago (featuring the same Vivian sisters from Realms and placing them in Chicago during the same time period occupied by Realms), and a number of journals including a daily record of the weather over a span of ten years.

Realms itself is not easily summed up, though Wikipedia does a fairly good job:

In the Realms of the Unreal postulates a large planet around which Earth orbits as a moon and where most people are Christian (mostly Catholic). The majority of the story concerns the adventures of the daughters of Robert Vivian, seven sisters who are princesses of the Christian nation of Abbieannia and who assist a daring rebellion against the evil John Manley’s regime of child slavery imposed by the Glandelinians. Children take up arms in their own defense and are often slain in battle or viciously tortured by the Glandelinian overlords. The elaborate mythology also includes a species called the “Blengigomeneans” (or Blengins for short), gigantic winged beings with curved horns who occasionally take human or part-human form, even disguising themselves as children. They are usually benevolent, but some Blengins are extremely suspicious of all humans, due to Glandelinian atrocities.

The impetus for Realms, according to his autobiography, was the loss of a photograph of all things. Darger was a lifelong hoarder of magazine and newspaper clippings and one of the most important it seems was a portrait from the Chicago Daily News from May 9, 1911 of five-year-old girl named Elsie Paroubek who disappeared on April 8th and was found a month later, murdered. When it went missing, Darger believed it was among a number of clippings he suspected were stolen from his work locker. The loss of the photograph upset him so much that he used it as inspiration for the assassination of child labor leader Annie Aronburg, which would spark the main conflict of Realms.

This, finally, brings us to the feature. Yu’s film does an admirable job of covering Darger, especially considering the roadblocks involved in trying to document the life of a recluse. Considering there are only three known photographs of the man, she gets the most mileage by animating scenes from Realms with voiceover. There are a few interviews with neighbors, but the majority of the film are found in these segments and they are endlessly fascinating. In fact, considering the number of sources we have, Yu’s effort is likely to be the best anyone is going to be able to produce about the man. Depending on one’s viewpoint this may be a best or worst case scenario. At best all that is left is one’s art, there is no personality to explain or influence opinion; the viewer is given only the product of the artist’s creativity. On the other hand, the subject matter is so strange that the viewer may spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to discern the mindset of the creator. In the case of Darger, I would say that for most (and I would probably include myself in this) it is the latter and for that reason In the Realms of the Unreal can be as frustrating in its limitations as it is compelling.

Savage’s “It Gets Better” Movement Gains Momentum

As many of you already know, it’s been a heartbreaking month in the US for the LGBTQIA community. The tragic story of 18-year old Rutgers student, Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge to his death, is the most high profile in a series of suicides in recent weeks of young people believed to have victims of anti-gay bullying and outright hate crimes. There was Billy Lucas, 15 years old, who hanged himself in a barn in Greensburg, Ind. Asher Brown, 13, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in Houston, TX. Seth Walsh in Tehachapi, CA, also 13, hanged himself from a tree in his backyard. Of course, those are only recent deaths we’ve heard about.

Writer, educator and activist Dan Savage wrote this for his Savage Love column late last month:

Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.

“My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas,” a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. “I wish I could have told you that things get better.”

I had the same reaction: I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.

But gay adults aren’t allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don’t bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.

Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.

So here’s what you can do, GBVWS: Make a video. Tell them it gets better.

Since September 23rd, when Savage posted that initial video of himself and his husband Terry telling their stories and urging kids to hang in there, the “It Gets Better” video outreach project has been growing in leaps and bounds, gaining coverage, support and involvement from all over the place, including NPR, the ACLU, and hundreds of vloggers on YouTube. On Thursday, Ellen Degeneres aired her own “It Gets Better” segment and updated an End Bullying page on her website.

This wonderful project was launched specifically to help LGBTQI youth get through the hard times, but as many participants have noted, it’s a sentiment that can be applied more broadly to freaks, geeks, weirdos, outcasts and oddballs of all stripes. Hang in there, kittens. It really does get better. Meantime, there are tons of resources to tap into: The Trevor Project, Scarleteen, We Give a Damn, We Are The Youth, I’m From Driftwood, PFLAG, We’ve Got Your Back, and a wide assortment of National Crisis Hotlines, for starters. You are not alone.

To share your story of how you got through the rough shit and how life really, truly did get better, create your video, post it to YouTube, and send the URL to mail (at) savagelove.net. They’ll review it and post it to their FAVES section. Bless you, Dan Savage. You’re a mensch.

BTC: Freaky-Ass Singing Orange from Sesame Street

Let’s kick off the week with a little extra vitamin C:


(Thanks for reminding me, Dusty!)

All hail the caterwauling Carmen Orange. Venerated demigod of public broadcasting, mesmeric and disturbing in equal measure, she haunts the collective memory of multiple generations of Sesame Street-watching children. According to a couple of unconfirmed reports online, she was animated by Jim Henson himself.

Really, would anyone be surprised if that were true?

Duck and Cover – Vintage Atom Bomb Safety Video

Below is an unforgettable and somewhat controversial piece of U.S. history. Commissioned in 1951 by the US government, Duck and Cover was distributed as a children’s safety education film that taught atom bomb preparedness.

This film is chock-full of alarming statements like, “There are two kinds of attack: with warning and with no warning”  and “Tony knows that the bomb can explode any time of the year, day or night, and he’s ready for it!”, over striking footage of schoolchildren dropping to the ground in the middle of play, “enemy planes” dimming the skies, and the U.S. military at the ready. Made during the height of the red scare, Duck and Cover feels more like a Pinko-paranoia-induction tactic than a safety film, especially when we consider that all of the methods shown would be absolutely useless at ground zero. From the film’s Wikipedia page:

For those not at ground zero, there would be a delay between the flash (indicating the need to duck and cover) and the arrival of the blast wave, which could shatter windows and cause other blast or impact injuries (although electromagnetic radiation, such as infra-red and gamma rays, would arrive at the observer’s position at the same time as the light flash, leaving the observer no time to find cover from these particular aspects of a nuclear detonation). A newspaper would, at least in theory, block alpha radiation although skin does this anyway, provide some shielding from the heat (IR, visible and UV) radiation and small debris, though it would have no effect on the beta and gamma radiation or on the shockwave that would accompany an atomic detonation.

Watch Duck and Cover below and pay close attention. After all, you never know when the bright flash may come.

The Hobbit In Russia

The curators of all things weird and Soviet bloc over at English Russia have a collection of wonderful illustrations from the 1976 edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, by Mikhail Belomlinsky. A prolific illustrator of children’s books, Belominsky’s interpretations are that perfect mix of foreboding and fun. I am especially smitten with his rendition of Gollum. I would love to get my hands on a copy for the illustrations alone, regardless of my inability to actually read it.

BIRDEMIC and the Dichotomy of Ironic Hipster Fan Luv

Lucky, lucky Los Anglicans. Your cup runneth over: Tarkovsky festivals, the approaching Hollywood Forever film season, Kenneth Anger screenings… and soon, an encore presentation of Birdemic: Shock and Terror:

Only last month, Cinefamily housed the drunkenly enthusiastic world premiere of this cinematic Tour de Farce. The screening was hosted by Tim and Eric in cahoots with Severin Films, who turned the entire West Hollywood theater into “a temporary aviary with epic displays of Birdemic special effects, props and costumes that… put the Smithsonian to shame.”

Some background on the film from Severin’s official press release:

Birdemic, described by [writer/producer/director] James Nguyen as a romantic thriller, is a horror/action/special-effects-driven love story about a young couple trapped in a small Northern California town under siege by homicidal birds. Birdemic also tackles topical issues of global warming, avian flu, world peace, organic living, sexual promiscuity and lavatory access.

Nguyen, a 42-year-old Vietnamese refugee, wrote, cast and shot the film over the course of four years using salary from his day job as a mid-level software salesman in Silicon Valley. The film pays homage to Hitchcock’s The Birds via location shooting in Mission Bay, California, as well as an appearance by star of Tippi Hedren. When rejected for an official screening slot at Sundance, Nguyen spent eight days driving up and down the festivals nearby streets in a van covered with fake birds, frozen blood and Birdemic posters, while loudspeakers blared the sounds of eagle attacks and human screams.

Severin’s executive producers took one look at Nguyen’s labor of love and bought the rights to Birdemic for the next 20 years.

After the premiere screening last month, Nguyen and Birdemic co-stars Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore stayed on hand for a lively Q&A session with their soused and roaring public. They laughed, they cried, it was better than Cats. Now, thanks to popular demand, Birdemic is hitting the open road. Screenings are scheduled in thirteen cities across the continental US, starting April 2nd. Not since The Room or Troll 2 has a film been so poised for Ironic Hipster Fan Luv.

Hey… can we talk about Ironic Hipster Fan Luv for a sec?

Or not. In fact, I’m going to put the rest of this post under a cut, because I honestly don’t know if its ouroboric tone will be interesting, or merely irritating, to the majority of our readers. If you’re not already rolling your eyes with your arms folded across your chest, I invite you to read on!

Children by the Millions Wait for Alex Chilton

In honor of Alex Chilton’s passing, we’d like to publish this article written by Joshua Ellis. This article appeared in Coilhouse Issue 04. You can also view a PDF of this article, by a strange twist of fate, over at the official Pixies website. It’s not an article about him, or The Pixies, per se. However, we’ve been wanting to publish this article on our blog for a while now, and this feels like the right moment to do so. This article speaks to the heart of why we’re all here together. What’s that song? / I’m in love / With that song…

I have this memory, and I’m not sure if it’s even real–or if it’s real, if it’s cobbled together from a half-dozen memories, fragments of things that happened over the course of a year or two that began the summer before I started high school, in 1991.

In this memory, I’m sitting in the basement of a girl named Sara, who pronounced her name “Saah-rah” and had purple hair and smoked clove cigarettes. I didn’t know Sara very well, but she was part of a small collective of freaks and weirdos that I had congregated to when I moved that summer from my ancestral home of north Texas to the small mountain town of Hamilton, Montana.

I’m sitting in Sara’s basement with my friends: Jeremy, the pretty guy who wears big black woolen overcoats and Jamaican tam o’ shanters in bright yellow and red and green, and seems to have unlimited access to the panties of every single girl in the Bitterroot Valley; Wade, who perpetually sports Birkenstock loafers that look like inflated bladders and drives a white Volkswagen Beetle covered in Grateful Dead stickers; Nate, who is one of the best guitarists I’ve ever met and is a huge aficionado of what will later come to be known as “extreme” sports, like bouncing down jagged rock faces on a beat-up skateboard deck; Sarah and her sister, Jenny, who are both fond of dropping random giggly non sequiturs into the conversation when stoned.

They’re all here, or some of them, or none of them. We’re sitting in the dark, talking bohemian bullshit, maybe smoking pot. It’s the kind of night that gets put on endless repeat when you’re young and strange and condemned to spend your adolescence in some far-flung desolate shithole like Hamilton, Montana, where you can’t lose yourself in the noise or happily become part of it, the way you can in New York or Seattle or Los Angeles or Chicago.

I’m not as cool as they are. I don’t know about cool shit. I’m just this uptight kid from J. R. Ewing Land who talks too much, still wears Bugle Boy button-downs and M. C. Hammer pants, and has only the dimmest idea that there’s some entire world out there of cool shit that I know nothing about. I own a Jane’s Addiction album and I’ve vaguely heard of the Sex Pistols.

And in this memory, Sara gets up and puts a cassette tape into her boom box. It’s a time traveler from 1984, beaten and scuffed, with the inevitable broken-off cassette door, so you just slap the tape in and hope that the tape head keeps it from falling out, which will cause the relentless motors to chew the tape and unspool it like the entrails of a slaughtered pig. Sara slaps the tape in and hits play.

This song comes out–a slow beat, big and echoing, then a bass playing eighth notes, and then a guitar, dreamy and vibrating. It sounds like what I imagine sunrise on a beach would be like, like what I imagine doing heroin would be like, like what I imagine sex in a dark room with that awesome girl you lie awake and dream of meeting would be like. I haven’t experienced any of these things–yet.

And then a voice, a high husky man’s voice, gentle over the music.

Cease to resist, given my good-byes
Drive my car into the o-o-sha-hah-hahn

You think I’m dead, but I sail away
On a wave of mutilation, wave of mutilation
Wave of mutilation

Way-hey-hey-hey-have
Way-hey-hey-hey-have

“What is this?” I ask. Sara shrugs.

“It’s the Pixies,” she says in this memory that may not even be real, or maybe didn’t happen this way at all. “The song’s called ‘Wave of Mutilation.’ This is the U.K. Surf Mix. The real version is faster and louder.”

“I’ve never heard of them,” I said. “I’ve never heard this.”

“They’re pretty cool,” Sara says. “I think they’re from, like, Boston.”

I nod. Pretty cool.