Chugging, bouncing, percolating, bubbling NEU!

Guten Morgen. Or should I say, unhealthy Hallogallo…

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No visual conveys the wide-eyed, wondering delight of NEU! quite as joyfully as this video.

The music of this seminal Krautrock duo lives up to the name. How these songs have retained their aura of newness over the years is a mystery. For the briefest window in time, elements of glimmering psychedelic prog, robotic disco and thumping space rock coalesced and one of the most understated yet influential sounds in 20th century music was born.

NEU! formed in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1971 after wunderkinds Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger split from a more well-known outfit called Kraftwerk. Their self-titled debut was recorded in four days (with Can producer Conrad Plank). An eye-blink later, NEU! had disbanded. Yet their influence on music spans multiple decades and genres. Everyone from Julian Cope to David Bowie to Sonic Youth to Negativland to Stereolab has cited the duo as an inspiration. As the above video attests, the love fest will undoubtedly continue well into this century.

…and may your nights be aglow with cats


Korean scientists reached a new milestone by cloning several Turkish Angora cats that glow under UV light. Intended for genetic research, these felines had fluorescent genes added to their donor’s cells during the cloning process. Provided this doesn’t somehow result in a black market for glowcat fur stoles, it’s pretty great for both research and glow-stuff enthusiasts worldwide.

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You may also remember the green glow-pigs of recent science history.

Tank Girl, Then and Now

That was the Tank Girl of the 90s, the one I fell in love with. We didn’t hear from her for over a decade, but this year she re-emerged in The Gifting, a new series by Alan Martin (the original creator) and illustrator Ashley Wood. What does the Tank Girl of 2007 look like? Alan Martin had the following to say:

Here’s the emerging new look for Tank Girl. We were concerned that she didn’t make her re-appearance in the same, tired old clothes that she bowed out in some twelve years ago. What was alternative, upsetting, anarchic, and just plain odd-ball back then has since become common place. Mainstream media smothers us daily with punky chic, and modern day babies can be seen sporting spikey hairdos and Travis Bickle T-shirts. The uniform of the cultural revolutionary has been sold to The Man. So how to rebel? How give the finger to the fashion fascists? Normal is the only way ahead. Dress like a high school teacher from the mid-eighties, or pick clothes from your boring aunty’s wardrobe. The only way left to rebel is to dress like you’re not rebelling. We hope to bring a whole different flavour to Tank Girl, as she borrows ideas from past cultural reference points (Fay Dunaway in Bonnie & Clyde, anyone?).

I completely feel what Alan Martin is saying. I like the look of the new Tank Girl drawings. However, the old-school, combat-boot-wearing, band-aid-covered, baseball-bat-wielding, kinda-dykey Tank Girl of yore will always hold a very dear place in my heart.

I’ll come out and say it: I love Ashley Wood’s amazing drawing style, but the new Tank Girl look doesn’t really do it for me. Maybe I’m being way too nostalgic, but it’s also possible that what I’m reacting to is the idea that so many people have decided to rebel by not-trying-to-look-rebellious that it’s starting to look like an easy way out of any real effort. I’m not saying that to undermine Martin’s very important message (see our Hot Topic Rebranding post), but it may be possible that so many people have caught onto the “rebel by looking normal” notion, and so many are using it to lazily avoid any attempts at interesting self-expression through clothing, that I’m just hoping that the pendulum swings back to the other side. You know, the side with the band-aids and corrugated tubing and knee pads.

But I guess I should get over it and enjoy the story. Comic book characters change, if it’s a good comic. When Maggie from Love and Rockets gained weight and creator Jaime Hernandez insisted that this was the way that Maggie was meant to be, I thought that was incredibly touching and honest. It’s impossible to keep up a certain look forever, and the story can be just as interesting once that look is gone.

A better future: Bowie-inspired menswear at Target

A little fashion for our male readers – designer Keanan Duffy’s Bowie line for Target provides affordable stylish basics. Inspired by David Bowie, this collection offers skinny ties, vests and tight pants in muted colors, which can all be found in one place at reasonable cost.

If you haven’t stepped foot into a Target in months, this might be a good reason to do so. Or you can throw caution to the wind and shop online, instead – the web store presents the outfits in flash video format, so you can actually see how they look in motion on live humans, which is helpful. I really like some of these looks but menswear never fits me properly without significant alteration. The Bowie collection is at Target for a limited time only so if you dig it, hurry!

What’s Zo Wearing? December 16, 2007

We must never forget where we come from, peeps. Never! When I went to Russia last summer and saw this shawl, I knew it was destiny.

Now, a little language lesson for all. What you see me wearing below is a shawl. A shawl is called “shahl” in Russian. It is not called a “babushka”. A babushka, in fact, is a little old lady or grandmother. While these are often spotted wearing shawls on their heads they are not shawls themselves. Next time you see a shawl, you will KNOW.

And of course, even shadow-ninjas need familiars, particularly portable ones.

Heinrich Kley: Industry and Ecstasy, Fact and Fantasy

The greater the draftsman, the more the artist can suggest with the least number of pen strokes. He knows beforehand where each line will touch the paper and why. Each line and dot will convey large areas of figure or scene, and the true artist/draftsman can relate his imagination to the viewer. Add to this one other quality the rare attribute of satirical humor and you have one of the greatest draftsman of this century: Heinrich Kley. -Donald Weeks

It’s amusing that Heinrich Kley earned his college degree studying the “practical arts” when one considers the decidedly impractial nature of the artist’s most famous work. Although Kley’s technical prowess always set him apart, his early paintings of landscapes and still life subjects are nothing to write home about. It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century –while Germany scrambled to catch up to the rest of the swiftly industrializing world– that Kley’s own work took some fascinating turns.

All I want for Christmas is Sex.

What do S&M, Udo Kier and puppy fucking have in common? So glad you asked! They’re all in Madonna’s Sex book, see. Say what you want about her current honey locks and spandex ass, back in the 90s this woman owned.

Owned with a capital “O”, no matter what it took as this book goes to some length to prove. Inside the brushed metal cover are photos in Steven Meisel’s signature iconic style alongside some fairly gritty fetish scenes, all accompanied by erotic writing by Madonna herself.

Clickng below probably not safe for work, as you might have guessed.

Warehouse 23

Warehouse 23 is a really simple HTML site that hasn’t changed much in the past 10 years; you go there and you open different boxes, and find strange things inside. I opened up three boxes for this post and here are the last three items I’ve found there:

A small hamster, seemingly healthy. There is a small shaved patch on its back with a tattoo that says “Intel Inside.”

A small birthday candle in a small metal lantern, lit. It cannot be blown out or extinguished by any means and never seems to consume itself. A package of similar candles is in the crate, labeled “Everlast… the trick Birthday Candle by Il Lumens, Ltd.”

An old, yellowed copy of the San Jose Mercury-News. The headline story is about the assassination of the current president during his tour of a Silicon Valley firm. Several reassuring quotes from the vice president (now president) are included. The paper is dated the 27th of next month.

Go open a random box for yourself and see what you find! You can also add an item to the Warehouse (just stay away from the phrase “seemingly ordinary,” for the love of Bob!), or – and this is my favorite – dig through the dumpster, where you find items submitted to Warehouse 23 that didn’t quite make the cut, but were just too weird to ignore.

Be a dear and put on your pressure suit

What will you wear in space? It may sound unrealistic now, but consider this for a moment anyhow. Will you be trapped in the classic mattress of a suit with a fishbowl for a helmet, or something a little more flattering? Instead of stiff bulky padding would you prefer a space suit which allows to explore weightlessness to its full potential?

At one endlessly fascinating end of the space-wear spectrum is the function-oriented second skin BioSuit envisioned by Professor Dava J. Newman at MIT. Intended for actual extravehicular cosmic exposure, it’s sleek, beautifully functional, and structurally sophisticated, providing pressure and elasticity. And there’s a backpack!

Dava is involved with a remarkable amount of research on topics ranging from human performance in outer space to “Powered Assistive Walking Devices” for use by the handicapped on Earth. Admiration. Awe.

Murder on the high C’s

“They can say that I couldn’t sing, but they can never say that I didn’t sing!” – One of Florence Foster Jenkins’ releases

Ah, the glory days before computer software, when only the very talented, or wealthy eccentrics such as Florence Foster Jenkins could have access to recording facilities.

At sixty years of age, and a lifetime of fantasizing about becoming a singer, Miss Jenkins struck gold when her mother croaked and left her a free woman with a small fortune. In 1930 she set about making her mark in history, albeit inadvertently, as one of the worst recording artists in history.

She was almost an instant comedy sensation. Sporting a sensationally flamboyant wardrobe of her own design and accompanied by a hapless pianist who hilariously compensated for her tone-deaf-ness, her live performances were so coveted that scalpers would sometimes fetch ten times the price for a ticket. For what she absolutely lacked in pitch, rhythm, tone, or what is otherwise known in this dimension as ‘singing talent’, she made up for in stubborn confidence, insisting until the very end that she was a master. That end came a month after a sell-out show at Carnegie Hall in 1944, topping off a paradoxical career.

Behold, the genius of Florence Foster Jenkins in the form of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s ‘Queen of the Night’ aria from The Magic Flute:

Download Der Hölle Rach

Florence Foster Jenkins, beyond being the subject of popular ridicule, actually leaves us with a unique legacy. She set out to do the very difficult, with very little ability, very late in life and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. There’s also a nod to be given to the concept of contentment, a state of zen rejected by most true artists, regardless of their achievements. Her bewildering success lies as much in primitive hilarity as it does her balls to look inevitable failure in the face and say ‘I don’t give a fuck, I’m having this’.