“Detroit Thrives.”


The Michigan Theatre. Photo by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

Yesterday, having recently seen links about them in a couple different places, I tweeted: “Haunting, tragically beautiful photos of derelict Detroit by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre: http://bit.ly/fwDwPg [from the UK Guardian]”

They really are breathtaking images. A lone copy of Marchand and Meffre’s (rare?) book The Ruins of Detroit is currently on sale at Amazon, if anybody with a whopping $237.94 to spare is interested.


The ruined Spanish-Gothic interior of the United Artists Theater in Detroit, and Light Court, Farwell Building. Photos by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

Here’s the thing, though: in American cities like New Orleans, the Salton Sea, and (most vocally) Detroit, frustrated residents who see scores of photojournalists touring their neighborhoods just to take pictures of the sexy devastation and leave again have started calling these sorts of de-contextualized photo series of their backyards “ruin porn”.

“Here in Detroit, we’re sick of how the ruin porn runs rampant around the world, and everybody loves to use it to show how things have degraded here. Know what? There is a big resurgence happening here, and things are getting better.” That’s a quote from Ryan Cooper, a Detroit resident reacting to Dangerous Minds’ coverage of the Ruins of Detroit photobook.

Only I hadn’t read that, yet. I’ll admit it: when I linked out to the Guardian feature, I’d never even heard the term “ruin porn” before. About an hour after I aired that tweet, someone in Australia called datacorrupt responded bluntly with: “Detroit Thrives.” And a link.


Photo by Jon DeBoer. Mural by Philip Lauri, founder of “DETROIT LIVES!

Clicking through to Palladium Boots dot com, I promptly had my ruin porn-disseminating ass handed to me by the following half-hour documentary featuring not just several of those same sprawling abandoned spaces that captivated Marchand and Meffre, but also a rich variety of local entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, urban farmers and prodigal shopkeepers of Motor City who have been steadily reclaiming and reviving substantial portions of the urban grid, creating robust communities in a crumbling realm that was:

“Once the fourth-largest metropolis in America–some have called it the Death of the American Dream. Today, the young people of the Motor City are making it their own DIY paradise where rules are second to passion and creativity. They are creating the new Detroit on their own terms, against real adversity. We put our boots on and went exploring.”


Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Williamsburg anymore…

Product-shilling and Johnny Knoxville-yukkstering aside, Detroit Lives is an inspiring point of entry into the tenacious world of modern DIY Detroit. After watching the doc, I spent several more hours online exploring other links and sites (several of which are listed below). These kids are making and growing and building and yes, thriving. They seem committed, fierce, and in fucking earnest. Check ‘em out.

Any Detroit badasses reading? Please forgive me; I… I still love my ruin porn. Can’t help it. But in all sincerity, I love what you are doing far, far more. I’m surely not alone in that. Long may you thrive. Please come say hello if you like. We would love to hear more from you, and about you.

Detroit revival links:

Other Coilhouse posts of possible interest:

A Beautiful Grid of Art and Science

The superbly-designed website SpaceCollective dedicates itself to study of topics such as transhumanism, robotics, experimental architecture, and pretty much anything else that one can equate to “living the life of science fiction today.” Most of the site’s activity centers around blog posts and collaborative university projects, but one of the most stunning portions of the site, dense with complex, inspiring visuals and information, is the gallery.

There are six pages of scienctific psychedelia – a absorbing mixture as varied as Googie architecture, macro shots of hydrozoa, renderings of magnetic structures, jellyfish automatons, microchip embroidery, concept art from sci-fi films, and much more along the same lines. Two random images from this gallery may not have much to do with each other, but all together, they make a surprisingly cohesive whole. Quotes from the likes of Verner Vinge, Buckminster Fuller and Jorge Luis Borges cycle between the imagery, and most images are hyperlinked out to further sources. Enjoy!

On the Bro’d

If you’re a highly sensitive purist, DON’T bother with On the Bro’d: Every Sentence of Kerouac Retold for Bros. It will only sully your palate and piss you off. If you’ve never actually read On the Road, well, you should experience that first, most definitely. Particularly if you are bright-eyed, collegiate (pre or post) and fulla beans. For while it may retain its verve when read at a later age, the classic Kerouac scroll is, first and foremost, a young adventurer’s screed.


via DJ Dead Billy, thanks.

But hey, all you crabby old culture vultures who eat sacred cow burgers with zeal and favor the thigh bones of vegan Sarah Lawrence humanities majors for your walking sticks, pull up to the groaning board and dig the fuck in. If, perhaps, you remain secretly convinced that young Jack and pals could have stood to be a bit less self-indulgent, paternalistic, or just plain fuckwitted, this satirical retelling may provide you with nourishing vindication.

On the Bro’d is exactly what the title describes. References to beer bongs, pimps, Axe Body Spray, Sparks, popped collars, bottle service and “Wonderwall” abound. From its official press release (yes, apparently it has an official press release, ugh): “On The Road is an American classic and the seminal work of the Beat generation, but much of it’s lost in translation when read by the generation that goes to the club and then beats.” The as-of-yet unnamed author insists that his reinterpretation is both appropriate and relevant, seeing as the original book was goaded by the “stirring unrest and genius of a generation of bros.” Nnnngh.

Profoundly cynical and relentlessly obnoxious, On the Bro’d will make you weep and laugh and barf for the future of American culture as only a seasoned NYC designer/writer/humor blogger can make you weep/laugh/barf. So enjoy. Or not. Either way, you have my love and empathy.

Arthur C. Clarke’s 1964 Predictions for Today

BBC’s Horizon is a philosophical and scientific series that still runs today. Its opening episode in 1964 featured Coilhouse patron saint, Buckminster Fuller, along with the program’s mission statement:

The aim of Horizon is to provide a platform from which some of the world’s greatest scientists and philosophers can communicate their curiosity, observations and reflections, and infuse into our common knowledge their changing views of the universe.

Later that year, science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke was invited to share his visions of the future. Some are scary, warning us of the world becoming a giant suburb – right up there with the terror of Idiocracy, which still gives my nightmares. Some are encouraging, though yet-unrealized. My favorite speculations include: domed communities on icecaps, holidays under the sea, planetary engineering, and my top favorite remains recording directly onto the brain [please, yes?].

Though we’re running out of time to camp on either of the Poles, who’s to say at least some of us won’t be vacationing on the Moon in a fifty years? After all, Clarke’s prediction of us communicating instead of commuting was dead on, cryogenics are in full swing, and The Replicator exists, if only as 3D printing and spimes, for now. Watch the segment below in two parts, then see also:

[Thanks, Disinfo]

Youareareyouwhoareyou… Jonna Lee?

In the past two months, seven clips have appeared on YouTube under a mysterious account titled iamamiwhoami. Two days ago, the first full-length music video appeared – and many are claiming that, based on a few clues in the video, the identity of the author (widely rumored to be Goldfrapp, Trent Reznor, Lykke Li, Lady Gaga, The Knife and, seriously, Christina Aguilera) has finally been uncovered. But first, a bit of background by Leila Brillson to underscore the sheer amount of gematrical/Fortean weirdness packed into this haunting viral endeavor:

In December, a 55-second clip of a hyper-saturated, eerie (Scandinavian?) forest appeared on YouTube. No information was given, just the title “Prelude 699130082.451322-5.4.21.3.1.20.9.15.14.1.12.” The set of numbers following the dash, when matched to their alphabetical correspondents, spell “Educational.”

A few weeks later, a second video emerged, with a dirt-covered blonde girl seductively licking trees to a slow, driving electronic beat – the message this time, “Its Me.” Each video ended with the outline of an animal: a goat and an owl, respectively. The next video, accompanied by a funkier and more cheerful song, featured the painted girl again, up-close, with freakishly large eyes… this time, it spelled “Mandragora.”

The next video (“Officinarum”) increased the count to five (the featured animals, at that point, comprised of a goat, owl, whale, bee and llama). Then, on Friday, [James Montgomery, a music editor] received a package from a messenger service. “It was a thin, brown envelope with my name and floor typed on the front, and no return address.” Inside was a strand of hair from the blonde wig, some bits of wood, and what Montgomery calls a codex.

The project is not without a sense of humor. Each of the videos has a hyperlink in its description to another random but zoologically relevant YouTube clip –  Spit On by a Lllama, Screaming Monkeys, Bumble Bee on a Sunflower, to name a few. The new music video, which you can see below, links to this terrifying monstrosity.

So, yes! Now that the new music video has been posted, people have been started putting together the pieces. The most compelling evidence is here – while it does take a bit of magic out of the whole thing, it’s an impressive piece of internet sleuthing.

Yep, she’s a weird one. Please, please let it be her, and not some overproduced pop star. I mean, look at what she did to Nitzer Ebb. Jonna, if this is you, you have arrived!

The Simpsons Opening By Way Of Estonia

To those of you who live in Estonia or are of Estonian descent: please pardon my ignorance. Not only do I know next to nothing about your fine country but I can only fill this void with ridiculous and completely false information such as that your population is 54,640 and your main exports are rocks and sex slaves. This is terrible and I will do my best to amend this grievous lack of knowledge. For example, Wikipedia informs me that you are a Finnic people, which means that you enjoy an unfathomably difficult language. Good luck with that.

Also helpful is this wonderful parody for Estonia tv3, what I assume is one of at least three television channels in Estonia. It incorporates all the hallmarks of modern life in Estonia, like one room school houses, horse-drawn carriages, pigs heads, and toy stick horses. Of course it could all be a big ruse and, in fact, Estonia could be a nearly energy independent country with the most robust economy of the three Baltic states. Only the Estonians know for sure.

via The Daily What

FakeAPStylebook Reshapes World of Journalism

Right around Issue 03, our lovely copy chief Joanne Starer sent all the editors of Coilhouse a condensed document of guidelines based on the Chicago Style Manual. It tells us to spell out whole numbers one through one hundred (unless they are percents), italicize titles of books, newspapers & magazines, omit spaces around our em/en dashes, and many other such useful things. That was all fine and good, until today: the day that FakeAPStylebook on Twitter shook the world of journalism to its very foundations. The feed has amassed over 8,000 new followers in just two days, and it’s no wonder why: all issues of grammar, capitalization & punctuation have finally been revealed. This incredible new resource finally provides clarity to crucial concepts that the heretofore-accepted AP Style Guide completely overlooked. For example:

  • Use the quintuple vowel to transcribe the utterances of small children, “Daaaaaddy, I waaaant a Pooooony!”
  • Since the 1986 edition, the plural of McDonald’s is officially McDonaldses.
  • “Batman” may be used informally (“let’s go, Batman!”) and “The Batman” formally (“Mr. President, this is the Batman”).
  • The word “boner” is not capitalized, regardless of size.
  • Use a possessive proper noun in front of a movie remake title to convey crushing disappointment. (e.g. Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes)
  • In the news industry, an ’80s celebrity sex scandal is known as a “trifecta.”
  • Do not change weight of gorilla in phrase, “800-lb gorilla in the room.” Correct weight is 800 lbs. DO NOT CHANGE GORILLA’S WEIGHT!
  • “Your” and “you’re” may be used interchangeably if you are an idiot.
  • Avoid using the letter ‘G’ as it is unlucky.
  • The numbers one through ten should be spelled out while numbers greater than ten are products of the Illuminati and should be avoided.

Via Xeni.

Asgarda: The Music Video

Asgarda. Mountain-dwelling, scythe-wielding Amazonian cult? Paramilitary defenders of Our Dark Lady of the Orange Revolution? Exactly 37 new Asgarda fan clubs will pop up in Japan by the time I finish writing this post, and we still won’t be any closer to knowing who they really are.

Recently, a photo essay on Asgarda by Guillaume Herbaut in Planet Magazine captured imaginations all over the blogosphere. Coverage has ranged from cautious (Xeni: “sounds too awesome to be true in this cold, cruel world”) to shamelessly sensationalistic (English Russia: “A French explorer has found a group of amazons hiding in the woods”).  Like most, I want there to be a legendary tribe of ass-kicking warrior princesses living in the mountains of Ukraine. I’m just surprised at how little fact-checking has gone into this tale, across the board. It’s worse than usual. For example, in their original article, Planet Mag writes, “in the Ukraine, a country where females are victims of sexual trafficking and gender oppression, a new tribe of empowered women is emerging.” Over at The Frisky, this statement quickly transforms to: “the women have seceded from society because sexual trafficking is rampant in Eastern European countries.” My old journalism professor would’ve pulled out fingernails for that one. On the other hand, there’s been a steady chorus of people calling “fake,” saying that this is a PR stunt for some movie, or that they’re just a bunch of Pennsylvanian LARPers who’ve taken it one step too far. This post is for them, too. Don’t be afraid to believe! Below, my humble attempts to separate the facts from the fiction about this all-female purported warrior tribe.

The photos are real. Herbaut is a gifted photographer who has captured enduring images from Chernobyl, Ciudad Juarez (harrowing & NSFW), the city of Auschwitz as it is today, and Hiroshima. He’s done fashion potraits of “trendy Mollahs” from Iran for Elle, and documented the victims of family vendettas is Albania. His objectivity as a photojournalist when it comes to Asgarda may be up for debate, but the man knows how to tell a story. Sixteen captioned images of Asgarda can be found on his page, under the title “Return of the Amazons.” More photos by Herbaut of Asgarda appear in the series Ukraine’s Cossacks.

Friday Afternoon Movie: Secret Rulers Of The World

Today has not been a good day. Not. At. All. Usually, you would join your other co-workers around the photocopier, placing bets on which intern can make the most copies of their face without blinking, but you’re in no mood for such frivolities. Today you can only stare at your desk in despair. How much longer can you go on working this soul-sucking job; planted in front of your computer inside the thin, blank walls of your cubicle? What does it even matter? How can you, a single, lowly person, possibly prevail in the face of the worldwide Jewish banking conspiracy? What’s to be done?

The answer, of course, is nothing. Take it from me, an insider who types these words on a golden keyboard while sitting atop a pile of money, sipping from a tall glass of still-warm Christian baby’s blood. Don’t get too down on yourself though. After all it’s Friday. That’s a good thing, right? Sure it is. So why don’t you just ignore the screams of Jessica as her retinas are seared with ultraviolet light and watch some documentaries about a few of the people who may or may not control the world.

That’s right, this week we offer you Secret Rulers of the World, Jon Ronson’s series detailing the puppet masters who work behind the scenes and the lovable loons who strive to expose them. The highlight for me has to be Episode 2, which focuses on David Icke, a man so crazy, it turns out that when he talks about the world being run by “a race of 12 foot, blood-drinking, shape-shifting lizards” he is not making a coded reference to Jews but actually means a race of 12 foot, blood drinking, shape-shifting lizard men. You don’t run into that kind of batshit insanity everyday; especially unaccompanied by an orderly. So enjoy all five episodes; hours of New World entertainment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my baby’s blood is getting cold.

Civil War Veteran And His Wife

Unknown, ‘Civil War Veteran And His Wife’, hand-tinted collodion wet plate ambrotype, c1860s (via)

I don’t post vintage photos here very often (mostly because there are so many wonderful blogs devoted to them), but this one found over at Siege’s blog was too good to pass. You simply have to click here to see it in large format – there are so many incredible details! This looks like a still from a new movie – two talented actors, dressed expertly by a costume designer, captured by an in-demand photographer.  But no; it’s a vintage ambrotype from the Civil War era.

Just look at them. If this image doesn’t inspire you to start spinning tales, I don’t know what will. What did he do for a living? Did he ever fall off a horse? Did he like doing magic card tricks? Was he allergic to bees? How did he meet his lady, so stylish with her ruffled bonnet and black leather gloves? Was their marriage passionate? Did she have a good singing voice? Did she hate going to church?

Tell me a story about them.

Update! This post is officially getting the Coilhouse tag “Misinformation,” because Siege has uncovered some new facts. “A TinEye search result led to Google led to a post on A Database that lists this as ‘Veteran of Waterloo with his Wife’ c1850s:

“Bruce Bernard saw this unusual photograph for sale at Christie’s in the 1970s. It appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine where he was picture editor and in his book Photodiscovery, he later tracked it down for the collection. The medal on the man indicates him as a veteran of Waterloo.”

See also: Reliability of Wikipedia

Although it turns out this couple was from Europe, I still like Paul Komoda’s more American-sounding names from the comments: “Athanasius Scrimshaw and his good lady, Jerboa.”

For more on Coilhouse’s love affair with old photographs, check out The Tarnished Beauties of Blackwell, Oklahoma, probably one of my top 5 favorite Mer posts of all time.