Revisiting The House of Collection


Photo by Trevor Tondro for The New York Times

Two urban faery friends of ours in Williamsburg, ladies who have cultivated one of the most unique and enchanting domiciles you’ll ever see, are attracting a lot of attention, lately! Coilhouse first posted about Paige Stevenson and her Brooklyn loft, now called The House of Collection, in Feb of 2008. Since that time, the ever-inspiring Paige and her consummately luminous domestic partner, Ms. Ahnika Meyer-Delirium, have been working (and playing) toward making their wondrous 2000 square-foot loft more vibrant than ever.

Paige’s interview with All That We’ve Met last month is sure to inspire. Even more recently, the New York Times’ in-depth coverage of the House of Collection, –which features both Paige and Ahnika discussing their kindhearted philosophies of life and decor–  offers a gorgeous tour of their abode. An excerpt from that article, titled “In Williamsburg, a Live-In Cabinet of Curiosities“:

It’s the way objects are deployed — all over the place, in large quantities and with a sense of play — that makes for something unexpected. A mounted deer’s head is one thing. A deer’s head with a pink brocade eye patch, false eyelashes and a glittery nose is another.

Likewise, grouping all the plants in the living room, even when it’s a room as large as theirs, makes an impact. “People sort of melt open,” Ms. Meyer said. “They feel as though they’re in a magical fairyland. But they also feel at home.”

The House of Collection is rich in such contrasts, a place cozy and vast, one that is urban but, thanks to the greenery, the farm tools and animal forms, has a country feel. It’s fitting for a couple who are both very domestic and deeply unconventional.


Photo by Trevor Tondro for The New York Times

New York City can sometimes feel like an especially cold and aloof realm… yet the HoC is as warm, welcoming and accepting a place as you are ever likely to observe.

Ah, you beauties! Well done.

Poly Styrene (3 July 1957 – 25 April 2011)

“You remember that old song ‘Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see’? I’ve always felt that. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but I wouldn’t change a thing.” –Poly Styrene

Marianne Joan Elliott-Said, best known as Poly Styrene, legendary singer for the short-lived, seminal punk band, X-Ray Spex, has died at the age of 53.

This sad news comes to us mere weeks after Styrene officially released her final solo album, Generation Indigo, shortly after revealing to the press that she was fighting for her life. (Oh, cancer, up yours.)

Young Poly Styrene wore braces and bright Technicolor dream coats. She looked and sounded nothing like Crystal Gayle or Karen Carpenter. Instead, she hollered jagged lyrics from the bottom of her heart with all of the raw strength and fire of her male contemporaries in the ’77 UK punk school, plus a bit of something extra: full on, straight-up, unapologetic female outsider outrage, and a ferocious personal philosophy of anti-consumer culture environmentalism the likes of which punk would not see again until the Dead Kennedys.

In fact, Billboard would one day call her the “archetype for the modern-day feminist punk”. She certainly was, to put a point on it, “one of the least conventional front-persons in rock history, male or female”. [via]

NME writer James McMahon:

We live in an age where Jarvis Cocker and Beth Ditto are long established alternative icons, where Lady Gaga dressing head to toe in offal barely raises a shrug. Within the reign of Olivia Newton-John, like all the best popstars of their time, Poly Styrene must have seemed like she’d fallen to earth from another – most likely day glo daubed – world. She was to the spirit of individuality what Christopher Columbus was to having a wander.

Rest in Peace, badass woman. You broke the mold.


Press release photo for Generation Indigo.

Farewell, SGM. (Free Nils Frykdahl/Coilhouse PDF!)


A glimpse of the Helpless Corpses Enactment film shoot. Photo by Meredith Yayanos and Gooby Herms.

Click here to download a free Coilhouse Magazine PDF: Lives Transformed Through the Power of Confusing Music: Nils Frykdahl on Art and Kinship.

With solemnity, gratitude and a touch of sorrow, Coilhouse must acknowledge that Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, the most gloriously unclassifiable American band currently in existence, is about to call it quits. After a dozen relentless years of composing, recording, touring and performing some truly jaw-dropping music, the Oakland-based vanguards will play four final shows later this week in California: one in San Diego on April 7th, one in Los Angeles on April 8th, and two in San Francisco, both on April 10th (the evening show sold out, so they added a matinee).

Throughout the late nineties and all of the aughts, the legendary DIY road warriors of SGM crisscrossed the continental United States two, sometimes three times a year (and later on, toured Europe). Arriving at venues like a cheerful doomsday circus in their beautifully renovated vintage Green Tortoise bus, the curators entertained audiences with everything from puppet shows to Butoh dance to passionate readings of Italian Futurist manifestos. Flustered reviewers and reluctant converts, determined to pigeonhole SGM, labeled the avant-garde act as everything from neo-RIO (Rock in Opposition) to avant-prog metal, to grindcore funk theater, to, in the words of one concertgoer, “Satanic Anarchic Viking Shit”. But none of these descriptors come anywhere near encapsulating the band’s eclectic sound, style, or ethos. Not even close.


SGM on tour, 2009. Photo by Olivia Oyama.

The quintet has penned lyrics inspired by the Unabomber, James Joyce, madness, stroke-stricken baby doctors, love, death, cockroaches, and the end of the world. They have employed strange, esoteric contraptions from various folk traditions as well as several homemade instruments, such as the Viking Row-Boat, the Wiggler, the Spring-Nail Guitar, and a brutal, seven feet long piano-stringed bass behemoth called The Log. They have developed stage shows with stark lighting and elaborate costumes, sporting tooth black and spiked leather gauntlets and bonnets and bihawks and military khaki and antique lace nighties. They have sung lilting post-modern folk melodies. They have delivered face-melting blasts of pure, untrammeled metal.

They have rocked harder, more intelligently, and with more unabashed strangeness than anyone else around.

They will go down in legend.

Take comfort in knowing that these final shows won’t be the very last we’ll hear/see of them–the band has a comprehensive live DVD compilation in the works, as well as short film called The Last Human Being, and a final album. (We’ll be sure to announce all of those here when they’re released.)


Photo of Nils Frykdahl by Mikel Pickett.

In honor of the band, and to give our readers another peek at the variety of stuff we cover in the print magazine, Coilhouse is offering this free PDF download of our interview with Nils Frykdahl of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (as well as Idiot Flesh, Faun Fables, and several other acts) printed in Issue Three, summer of 2009.

Frykdahl is a fascinating artist with a lot of delight and wisdom to share. That goes for all of the curators of SGM, truly. (Nils, Dan, Carla, Matthias, Michael, Shinichi, Frank, Moe! et al: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Lots of love, and best of luck with all of your future endeavors.)

Click here to download a free Coilhouse Magazine PDF: Lives Transformed Through the Power of Confusing Music: Nils Frykdahl on Art and Kinship.

Rowland S. Howard: Autoluminescent

Here’s an extended trailer for a documentary feature in production on the late, great musician Rowland S. Howard:

Looks like it’s going to be a phenomenal biography. Produced by Ghost Pictures, Autoluminescent features candid conversations about the man’s gutwrenchingly beautiful guitar-playing and his tumultuous life with everyone from Nick Cave to Lydia Lunch to Nick Zinner to Gudrun Gut to Henry Rollins to Mick Harvey to Thurston Moore to Jim Sclavunos… brandishing a banana.

It’s currently slated for a Summer 2011 release. HELL YEAH.

“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:

Rosie the Riveter: A Collection of Flickr Tributes


PhocalPoint | Sarah Jake | Kate O’Brien / Drea Morsby | Stacey Lynn | Katacha | Tiffany (TLP Photography)

Last week, Geraldine Hoff Doyle, one of the inspirations for the character of Rosie the Riveter, died at age 86 in Lansing, MI. Doyle was just 17 years old when a photographer for United Press International snapped her photo at the metal-pressing plant where she worked. The photo was subsequently used by the U.S. War Production Coordinating Committee as reference for a poster titled “We Can Do It!” Lansing was oblivious to her fame until 1984, when she came across a reproduction of the poster in a magazine. Doyle’s daughter, Stephanie Gregg, told the Lansing State Journal, “she was very kind and generous. She lived the ‘We Can Do It!’ life every day.” The image was originally aimed to encourage women to enter the workforce in support of the war effort, but became an image of empowerment for the ages, inspiring, as Marina Galperina writes in her Rosie tribute post at the Animal NY blog, “a legacy of posters, merchandise, motivated females and countless internet doppelgangers.” Galperina has posted a selection of her favorite Rosie images from Flickr, and invites others to do the same. More “We Can Do It!” girls on Flickr right this way.


Kelly Docheny

Wayfaring Strangers


Image by Mike Brodie, a.k.a. the Polaroid Kidd.

The dark days are here to stay, it would seem – at least for all my friends in New Orleans. It feels wrong to even try to write about it at this point, but I really don’t know what else to do, and this heartbreak has to go somewhere. The night of Flee’s memorial Second Line parade, eight of his friends and their dogs burned to death when their squat, an abandoned warehouse, caught on fire from the barrel they were burning scrap in to stay warm. A few names have been sussed out, but I’m still not sure who was in that place when it went down, or if I knew them. Three women and five men between the ages of 19 and 30 died in the inferno, all described as “accomplished musicians or artists – jolly, happy people.”

Apparently one of the girls who died had been jumped by a guy on her way back to the squat recently, and had her face and arms slashed by his knife. She had been considering filing a report, but never got the chance. This insane rash of random violence with little motive brings to mind the shadow-play I saw performed at the Mudlark Public Theatre on Halloween, about the Axeman of New Orleans, who terrorized the city from May 1918 to October 1919. My friends are in a similar panic right now, though there’s no speculation that the assailants are possibly the devil in disguise. Monsters, maybe. Disenfranchised young men, raised in poverty, abused, angry and numbed to the violence and death that surrounds them, that they wreak. There is a bleak miasma, a rotten swamp-funk of despair and fear that seems to be seeping up through the banquettes and curling around every corner down there right now. This fire wasn’t part of that crime-wave, no – but all this bad shit happening at once, without even giving people a chance to catch their breath… It’s just brutal. What’s really fucking with me is the response of “concerned citizens” who callously voiced their opinions about the kids who died with nasty comments on a local news site. I should know better than to ever read that shit, because it’s usually horrifying, and makes me feel very sad for humanity. It got under my skin, though – these people basically saying “good riddance to gutterpunks” and that they got what they deserved for choosing to live the way they lived. Unbelievable, and so sad, that people would respond to the accidental deaths of eight young people with such vitriol. Even the more compassionate news stories refer to them as “homeless” or “transients”, and lead in to discussions about the pitiful lack of resources and shelters in New Orleans, which is of course important, but not actually very relevant to who these kids were. Here’s a couple comments from the thread which address it better than I can:

“You just assume that because they were squatting they don’t have jobs, but a lot of these kids do work. They do bike delivery in the quarter or wash dishes or tend bar. They travel a lot, so often they don’t tie themselves down to a lease. They sleep on the couches of friends or in abandoned buildings. It may not be your choice of lifestyle, but it’s not malicious and it’s not lazy. It’s just different. Their lives matter just as much as yours or mine. Grow a heart and some perspective.”

and

“Every human deserves a warm place to sleep and healthy food. I didn’t know those kids well, but I knew that they were working on that building, that they had built lofts and had made more improvements to that structure then who ever owned had in years. They weren’t homeless – that was their home and it burned down and its a goddamn tragedy anyway you write it down, and if you think otherwise you are a cruel person who needs to go back to whatever godforsaken suburb you crawled out of and stay there.”

Goddamn right.

BTC: “I Want a Cookie”

Here’s a helpful Monday morning mantra/boogie to help you manifest positive change in your life: “I want a raise. I want to go home. I want sex. I want a cookie. WAAAHHH. WAAAAOOW.”

The insubordinate music group known as The Evolution Control Committee “began in 1986 and continues to risk millions in copyright violation fines for what the ECC calls music'”. Founded by Mark Gunderson in Columbus, Ohio and now based out of SF, the ECC, along with John Oswald and The Tape-beatles, are progenitors of mashup who have long been using scads of unauthorized samples to cheekily protest against copyright law.

Their instant dance club hit, “I Want a Cookie” hails from the album Plagiarhythm Nation v2.0, released in 2003 on Seeland Records (Negativland’s label). Remember “Rocked by Rape“? Hee hee… that’s on there, too. These guys are sharp, funny, and free for downloading. (Although donations are always welcome.)

Tin Teardrops for Captain Beefheart

“If you want to be a different fish, you gotta jump out of the school.”
— Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart.

Born January 15, 1941. Died December 17, 2010.


Photo by Anton Corbijn, 1980.

He was one of the most singularly strange, goading, galvanizing musicians of the 20th century. We were very lucky to have him. From AllMusic:

…Captain Beefheart was one of modern music’s true innovators. The owner of a remarkable four-and-one-half octave vocal range, he employed idiosyncratic rhythms, absurdist lyrics and an unholy alliance of free jazz, Delta blues, latter-day classical music and rock & roll to create a singular body of work virtually unrivaled in its daring and fluid creativity. While he never came even remotely close to mainstream success, Beefheart’s impact was incalculable, and his fingerprints were all over punk, new wave and post-rock.


Rest in peace.

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.