The Battleship Potemkin

One of the most acclaimed films of all time, and certainly one of the artfully made/broadly influential propaganda pieces created to this day, Sergei Eisentstein‘s 1926 feature film The Battleship Potemkin presents an exhilarating (not to mention highly dramatized, sometimes outright fictionalized) depiction of the 1905 mutiny of a Russian battleship’s crew agains their Tsarist commanding officers. Eisenstein made cinematic history with his development of the montage concept, and his unflinching use of realistic violence.

Via Jess Nevins comes word that we can watch the entire thing, uninterrupted, on teh YooToobz. It’s the version with the Shostakovich score, too. Pretty awesome (in the traditional sense of the word, even)!

Occupy Everywhere: The West Coast

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.


Photo by Margaret Killjoy.

Oakland

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.

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” (Goodbye, Steve Jobs.)

“I find it rather fascinating how respected Steve Jobs was by corporate capitalist bigwigs and art freak anarchists alike.” - @colinaut. “Steve Jobs dies. Protesters being beaten on Wall Street. Custom stem-cell cloning achieved. Hell of a night. Rest easy.” – @warrenellis. “Man, I’m really, really sad. I always wanted to meet Jobs, always wanted to thank him for basically inventing my world.” – @jzellis “Overheard from one of the nearby reporters [at the SF Apple Store]: ‘I’ll keep looking, but nobody here is crying yet.’” – @DocPop. “Gone way too soon. Thanks for everything Steve.” – @zoecello. “Wow, even my retired dad is sending me RIP Steve Jobs emails – from his iPad.” – @claytoncubitt “If you want to honor Steve, don’t mourn. Do your best work every day. Live your life to the fullest. Never settle. His spirit lives on.” – @sdw “iRIP, Steve Jobs. Thank you for making incredible things, so we can live in the future.” – @wilw

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

- Steve Jobs,
(February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)

The Praise of Motherfuckers

Another thoughtful article by guest contributor Jeffrey Wengrofsky, “The Praise of Motherfuckers” looks at intergenerational warfare and the use of the word “motherfucker” in counterculture. NYC readers, take note: Jeff’s latest film (with the Syndicate of Human Image Traffickers), “The Party in Taylor Mead’s Kitchen,” is an Official Selection of DOC NYC 2011, the documentary film festival of the Independent Film Channel. It is scheduled to make its premiere on November 6 at New York University’s Kimmel Center at 7:30 and on November 7th at the Independent Film Center at 3:45. The film depicts the romantic beauty and squalid dereliction of the bohemian life as embodied by Beat poet and Warhol Superstar Taylor Mead. It’s being shown with “Girl with the Black Balloons.” Grab your tickets here. Congrats, Jeff! – Ed


“WALL ST. is WAR ST.” Photo by Larry Fink. More photos here.

There is a … sort of madness… which the furies bring from hell; those that are herewith possessed are hurried on to wars and contentions… inflamed to some infamous and unlawful lust, enraged to act the parricide, seduced to become guilty of incest, sacrilege, or some other of those crimson-dyed crimes…  ~  Erasmus

Not long ago I attended a lecture on youth rebellion in the 1960s.  The presenter noted with disdain that the word “motherfucker” was used by some of the speakers at the notorious demonstration against the 1968 Democratic National Convention.   Use of this term, so the argument went, was emblematic of a movement that was politically inept if not inherently self-destructive.  And the most immediate casualty of the unholy coupling of “mother” and “fucker,” it was alleged, was the candidacy of Hubert Humphrey, who lost to Richard Nixon.  For those outside the Convention, however, Humphrey’s nomination – pre-ordained by party insiders – offered a continuation of the Vietnam War and seemed to make a farce of our democracy.


The Motor City Five get it on (and duck stray bullets)

Well, it got me to thinking, and I soon made the personal discovery that Motherfuckery was all over America in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  No, not literally, of course.  The phrase was, however, in conspicuous currency among New Leftists in a way it had not been before or has been since.

On that fated afternoon in 1968, Rob Tyner of the MC5 had, indeed, shouted his shibboleth – “It’s time to kick out the jams, motherfuckers!” – to ignite his band’s performance, as he did for nearly every show.  After hours of peaceable, if raucous, assembly and rock’n’roll (the MC5 were the only band with the gumption to perform), Chicago mayor Richard Daley dispatched 23,000 police and National Guardsmen to beat and gas the protestors.  And when Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff noted, on the floor of the Convention, that Daley was using “Gestapo tactics,” Daley himself fired the epithet of the era right back at the rostrum: “Fuck you, you Jew son of a bitch! You lousy motherfucker!”

Just a year earlier, Everett LeRoi Jones decorated a poem celebrating the race riots that would permanently cripple Newark: “All the stores will open if you say the magic words. The magic words are: Up against the wall mother fucker this is a stick up!” Magic words indeed, but the “joosh stores” did not “open,” they closed and remain shuttered to this day or marked only by empty spaces in their footprint.

The phrase “motherfucker” had already been in circulation in hip, African-American lingo long before Jones tapped it, referring to someone who may be evil, a passionate musician, or simply a force to be reckoned with.  It is important to note here that mainstream African-American society, ever-struggling for respect, was possibly even more hostile to the use of the term in polite company than America as a whole.

In New York City, Ben Morea, a ballsy street urchin whose totalizing, uncompromising politics was wedded to a phrase befitting his society of self-proclaimed “suicidal sidewalk psychopaths” known as “Up Against the Wall, Motherfucker,” “The Motherfuckers,” or, most simply, as UAW/MF – though they referred to themselves collectively as “The Family.”  Perhaps significantly, Morea “did not know his father [and] did not want to tell his mother he was a Motherfucker because he did not want to disappoint her.”  Osha Neumann, another Motherfucker, also had a twist in his family romance: his father’s best friend, a man who had lived in his house like an uncle (Herbert Marcuse), married his widowed mother.

The Motherfuckers declared war on “the totality of reality as shaped by” the financial, military, and cultural elites by disrupting the suburban commute at Grand Central Station and high mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  In the middle of the garbage strike of 1968, Motherfuckers dumped bags of rotting garbage from the scummy streets of the Lower East Side onto the pristine promenade of the newly-minted Lincoln Center.  They “ran free stores and crash pads…organized community feasts…[and] propagandized against the merchandizing of hip culture…” And, in the middle of the attempted “exorcism of the Pentagon,” only the Motherfuckers actually got inside the five-sided hole of power.   Puritanical Roundheads on the frontline of America’s “cultural revolution,” they fought the police and sometimes against other radicals, criticized both the war and the naive embrace of the Vietcong by the left, shot blanks at poet Kenneth Koch (who may have fainted or told them to “grow up”), printed and distributed fliers in solidarity with fellow traveler Valerie Solanas after she shot Andy Warhol, and forced Bill Graham into letting them use the Fillmore East for free once a week.

When Detroit’s MC5 came to play New York’s Fillmore on one such night, free tickets had not been distributed to the Motherfuckers and their ilk, unbeknownst to the band.  The sight of the MC5 pulling up in a limo provided by Electra Records the Motherfuckers then took to be a sign of bourgeois bedfellowship, so they trashed the Fillmore and sent that otherwise courageous band into rapid retreat under threat of grievous body harm.   The Motherfuckers were so feared that they once closed the mighty Museum of Modern Art by simply revealing their plans for it.  Their slogan was put to music by David Peel and Harold C. Black, lo-fi renegades calling themselves “The Lower East Side,” in a feisty ditty on an album whose cover demurred from disclosing the word “motherfucker” although it was otherwise brash enough to be titled Have a Marijuana. More than a regional phenomenon, the Motherfuckers were the only non-student branch of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), were admitted to and then purged from the largely French Situationist International, and had their slogans scooped up by San Francisco’s Jefferson Airplane for their song, “We Can be Together.” (Jefferson Airplane would actually voice a parricidal fantasy in a different song: “Hey Frederick.”)

Occupy Wall Street NYC’s First Official Document For Release / Collection of Pertinent Links, Video

Hey, all! This is just a quick scrapbook post to gather together some information about the activism building in NYC (and elsewhere in the US) since September 17th, with an emphasis on bits and pieces that a) touch on the evolution of open source counterculture, b) examine indie media/social network coverage versus MSM, c) convey the increasingly surreal (and sometimes funny), stranger-than-speculative-fiction nature of much of what’s happening, or d) relate directly to longtime members of the Coilhouse community. It will be updated over the next few days/weeks, with all additions and edits clearly marked.*

Are you currently organizing/protesting in NYC, or elsewhere in the States? We’d love to hear from you in comments. The more dialog that gets going about all of this, the better. Interesting times, indeed. Certainly galvanizing. And, potentially (hopefully), healing? Fingers crossed. Best of luck, everyone.


Hundreds of protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday. (Photo via)

Occupy Wall Street’s First Official Statement (via the Daily Kos):

This was unanimously voted on by all members of Occupy Wall Street last night, around 8pm, Sept 29. It is our first official document for release. We have three more underway, that will likely be released in the upcoming days: 1) A declaration of demands. 2) Principles of Solidarity 3) Documentation on how to form your own Direct Democracy Occupation Group. This is a living document. you can receive an official press copy of the latest version by emailing c2anycga@gmail.com.

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

Lisa Bufano: Dancer/Shapeshifter


“I’m a shapeshifter… I explore the different forms my body can take using different mediums.” – Lisa Bufano. Photo by Gerhard Aba.

Lisa Bufano is a performance artist whose work incorporates elements of doll-making, animation, and dance. Bufano was a competitive gymnast as a child and a go-go dancer in college before she lost her lower legs and all her fingers due to a staphylococcus bacterial infection at the age of 21. Shortly after this occurred, Bufano went on to study stop-motion animation and sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Bufano’s performances often involve the use of prosthetics and props, and, according to Wikipedia, she lists among her inspirations “medical drawings, historical wax models and dolls, and optical toys; flip dolls and paper dolls; the structural aspects of Japanese jointed dolls, Hans Bellmer’s doll work, Louise Bourgeois’ cell installations, and the animation of Jan Švankmajer and the Quay Brothers.”

Bufano is now working on what may be her most ambitious project yet: a routine using aerial hoop. Bufano is developing a lyra – a steel hoop suspended from the ceiling – designed to accomodate her limited grip. Bufano is currently doing strength conditioning and discovering the movement, holds and momentum of working with lyra:

Below is a clip from her recent performance “One Breath is an Ocean for a Wooden Heart,” a duet with dancer Sonsheree Giles on stilts. Bufano describes the piece as “an unusual modern dance duet for a disabled dancer and an able-bodied dancer that is informed by the relationship between physical transformation and identity.” [via riotclitshave]

Happy Birthday, Martha Graham


Photo by Yousuf Karsh.

Martha Graham, Mother of Contemporary Dance, speaking to friend and colleague, Agnes de Mille:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.”

“It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

As quoted in The Life and Work of Martha Graham (1991) by Agnes de Mille, p. 264.


Martha Graham, photographed by Edward Steichen for Vanity Fair, 1931. (via)

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.

“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