Weekly Ad Uncoiling: queer-travel.de

Mount Assmore! This is truly one of the funniest ads (click here for closer look) I’ve seen in my 20 years in this fucked-up business. It’s for German website queer-travel.de, who for over 12 years, have made “gay and lesbian travel dreams come true…” according to the highly reliable Google translate function. This week, the Epica Awards, “Europe’s Premier Creative Awards,” announced that this cheeky execution had a won a silver in the press and poster category. I’m sorry, but it totally smokes the gold winner. I usually poo-poo this hackneyed ad visual technique of manipulating well-known landmarks (Rushmore has been abused many times), but this one is just so wonderfully bizarre, and apropos! So, to the Presidential asses! Teddy (second from right) has the roundest rump, but Abraham’s (far right) is the tightest tushy. Poor George (left) has the flattest … I wonder what the open-minded, DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act)-supporting South Dakotans (and the equable Bill O’Reilly!) would think of this sullying of their state treasure?

Playful Revolution: Caroline Woolard’s Subway Swing

After 9-11, that sick, sinking feeling many weary commuters experienced stepping onto a crowded NYC subway car was magnified by the MTA’s stentorian banner campaign, “If You See Something, Say Something.” Artist  Caroline Woolard has found a delightful way to strip away the defensive layers of suspicion and dread that can accompany a subterranean commute, replacing default anxiety with spontaneous joy by crafting a backpack that transforms easily into a swing! Using 1000 mesh “L-train grey” cordura, webbing, sliders, hooks, velcro, and snaps, Woolard’s “bag swing” is fitted with sturdy straps that hook easily around the handrail of the subway:

Says Woolard: “I hope that the innocent amusement of swinging on the subway eclipses the current atmosphere of insulation and suspicion.”

Much of Woolard’s creative output seems to revolve around the idea that we should all strive to come into the moment, moving actively through the world rather than shuffling absently through it. Her emphasis on exploring pedestrian space and “cultivating everyday magic” in an urban environment encourages viewers (and participants) to reexamine their relationships with the overwhelmingly massive, immovable urban architecture they live in.

What is the relationship between play and revolution? Creating fissures in reality opens up the possibility for change: change in the everyday/monotonous routine, change in assumptions about ‘facts’, change in the world in general. The act of “making strange” allows a new perspective for reassessment and critique. Nothing is fixed and anyone can make the environment around them better.

Adventurous New Yorkers will definitely want to get on her email list.

Recently, presumably to take her site specific explorations a step further and be even more fully in the present, Woolard has stopped updating her art blog. “My projects are lived and may eventually lose any connection to Art…” In other words, she’s just doing it without defining it. “Many things are happening, but you must discover them in real time.” Bravo, Caroline.

Via the lovable guerilla art wunderkind SF Slim, thanks.

Weekly Ad Uncoiling: eta Travel Irons

I love traveling. I hate ironing. Therefore, I do not, and never will, own a stupid travel iron. Yeah, why don’t I also pack a travel toilet brush and some Toilet Duck and clean my hotel room shitter while I’m on vacation? Irons are for sporadic home use only, and even then, with expletive-filled disdain.

However, these sci-fi movie poster ads for eta travel irons are ridiculously cool. I want to steal them for my own portfolio. I want to hang them in my bedroom. I want to see the movies! It’s Mega-eta vs. Mechagodzilla! Tokyo terrorized by clashing steel behemoths! Monstrous Mega-eta steams through the Japanese capital in search of its robot foe, flattening every Gap store (there are several!) along the way. Irony! The wonderful campaign was created by ad agency Kaspen in Prague (I hate you creative bastards). After the jump, view an updated War Of The Worlds, where an alien armada of irons lays waste to the City Of Light, including an inglorious toppling of the Eiffel Tower. (images via BestAdsOnTV. There’s also a Rome version.)

The Tarnished Beauties of Blackwell, Oklahoma

Criss-crossing America’s interstates on shoestring music tours, my bandmates and I see scores of battered roadside billboards. They advertise ramshackle sculpture gardens, art brut outposts, World’s Biggest Fill-in-the-Blanks, rustic museums, and obscure historic landmarks. Such attractions are usually located in quiet little towns only a short distance from the highway. More often than not, we make a point to stop, stretch our legs and explore. These spontaneous jaunts expose us to beauty and knowledge we would never have discovered otherwise.

Possibly the most delightful surprise on this last stint with Faun Fables was a visit to the Top of Oklahoma Museum, housed in the somewhat dilapidated (but still glorious) Electric Park Pavilion on Main Street in Blackwell, OK (population 7,700). A grand, white structure with a large central dome, the Pavilion was built in 1912 to celebrate the advent of electricity in Blackwell. Its design takes after styles exhibited at the famous “White City” of the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. Its lights, which originally numbered over 500, could once be seen for miles across the windswept prairie.


These days, the Pavilion could use some serious TLC. Multiple leaks in the dome have endangered the museum’s contents. Plastic tarps enshroud several exhibits. Many items bear marks of water damage. One of the kindly septuagenarian docents who works there followed us from room to room, clucking over the holes in the roof, the rusty stains. These senior preservationists take a lot of pride in their charge, with good reason. The “TOOM” is a sprawling treasure trove of turn-of-the-century ephemera, railroad memorabilia, articles of Cherokee life, hand-carved walking sticks and pipes, dioramas, dollhouses, baby buggies, hobbyist’s taxidermy, antique musical and medical instruments, Victrolas, zinc smelting documentation, delicate handmade lace, linen and clothing, exceedingly creepy dolls, sewing machines, china, vintage propaganda, picture books, elaborate quilting, and countless other keepsakes left behind by the city’s first brave citizens.

Judging by these artifacts, early non-native residents of Oklahoma were hardy, determined folk who struggled to eke out a life on America’s frontier. How they maintained such an unshakable air of dignity and refinement is beyond me, but Blackwell is a true, sparkling diamond in the rough. For me, nothing symbolizes the spirit of its citizens better than the following portrait, unceremoniously presented on a torn, water-stained bit of pasteboard in the museum’s “School Room”: ”

Who were you, Lola? Whatever became of you?

The girl’s name was Lola Squires, and she was a student enrolled in Blackwell High, graduating class of 1916. That’s all I know. Her gaze knocked me back several feet. Once I finally stop staring at her, I realized that there were countless other flint-eyed and bow-bedecked young beauties on the walls nearby. I must have spent well over an hour in that one room, moving from portrait to portrait, documenting as much as I could, just stunned.

Death is not a Joyride


I’m writing quickly from the humid crotch that is Houston, Tex-Ass, to sing the praises of a most comely and delightful band who opened for Faun Fables on the eve of the Summer Solstice two nights ago. Death is not a Joyride is a rollicking, zoomorphic avant-pop five piece from Austin who won me over immediately with their butt-wiggling exuberance on the longest, steamiest day of the year.Their first full length album, The Human Zoo, was produced by John Congleton (The Polyphonic Spree, Explosions in the Sky and The pAper chAse) and features 45 blissfully cracked minutes of “girl-fronted dark violin burlesque dance rock.”


Fans of Kate Bush, Bungle, Battles, Glass Candy and Stolen Babies are sure to find the songs of Death Is Not A Joyride particularly life-affirming. I’d love to see them on a bill with fellow Austin oddballs, The Octopus Project. Can somebody make this happen, please?!

The Intercontinental Radio Show

Serbian punk band Pekinška patka. Hear ’em on The Intercontinental.

Pardon me, are you part shark? What I mean is, if you don’t constantly keep moving, exploring, and devouring, does it feel as though your organs might implode from sheer doldrums? Do unfamiliar smells and sounds intrigue rather than offend you? Are you an incorrigible know-it-all, scoffing openly at poor, unwitting souls who declare Mike Patton’s work to be the utmost pinnacle of musical wackiness?* Would you enjoy traveling to an exotic third world locale with nothing but a ukulele and a homemade shank?

Buddy, have we got a podcast for you.

Based out of WMBR in Cambridge, MA, The Intercontinental is a weekly radio program hosted and curated by one Mr. Jesse Kaminsky. Jesse has an uncanny knack for rooting out the most obscure and delightfully diasporic music you’ll ever hear. As of 2006, the U.N. recognizes 192 different countries, and according to Jesse’s last tally, The Intercontinental has played music from 119 (not counting New Caledonia or Bora Bora or Greenland or Somaliland or Western Sahara or French Polynesia).

Japanese whammy bar surf royalty and Intercontinental regulars, Takeshi Terauchi and the Bunnys.

Recently, Jesse started a podcast feed for the benefit of everyone who’s not living in Boston or near a computer each Wednesday from 6 pm to 8:00 pm E.S.T. So “tune into the sounds of the Finnish Underground, Tuvan Rock, Asian Psychedelic, Russian Lounge, and Inuit beat boxing” and be ready to shake your tuchus.

*Dear rabid Bunglers, please do not hurt me. I give mad props to Mr. Patton. But the world is vast and strange. I implore you: venture bravely beyond the Tzadik catalog on your next record-buying excursion.

Hello from the Dubai tourism board!

Diz and Mil.

Friends, one of Our People is in serious trouble.

Mildred’s partner, Diz, has been arrested in Dubai for melatonin, an over-the-counter aid for jet lag. You can read the full story here, on Mildred’s LJ. I quote:

We kind of knew he would be profiled because he has long hair and looks oriental (they are very racist against Asians in Dubai, and ultra-conservative). He knew the score going in: prescription drugs are illegal, dress conservatively and detox for a week (even trace amounts of either illegal or prescription drugs in the urine are prosecuted as ‘drug smuggling’. I’m not joking). They found melatonin on him, which he bought over the counter in the US. Legally, you can even buy it over the counter in Dubai. They arrested him, anyway.

He was strip searched, forced to do a urine test and thrown in jail. In their search they dug into the bottom of his bag and came up with a few fragments of dirt, which they allege is hashish, which is totally outrageous. They also claimed that the melatonin was actually drugs, which was equally, clearly absurd.

The sentence if convicted is a blanket four years, with a minimum of six months in prison in one of Dubai’s squalid, third world facilities.

I can’t think of a less deserving person for this to have happened to, this being the guy who offers shelter to his friends, campaigns for animal rights and subscribes to daily_puppy. Diz’s drug test came back negative and the melatonin has been cleared, but the authorities are still detaining him over the clump of dirt, which they’re still testing. We are all hoping that, in the next week, Diz will be released with an apology and sent home. If not, we are ready to wage all-out media war to bring him home.

Travelers need to know the image of Dubai a safe, modern tourist destination is a mirage. I don’t care if they have The Hydropolis, I don’t want any of you going there. What happened to Diz can happen to anyone, and now we’re just keeping our fingers crossed as we wait for news.

Please see Mildred’s LJ post for further details about this story. Please read the post before asking questions. Thank you everyone for your support! A special thanks to Warren Ellis for helping spread the word.