Very Blue Beard – A Moral Tale

Another Soviet cartoon awaits below! A favorite in my childhood household, Very Blue Beard was released in 1979 and tells an alternate tale of the famed wife-killer and three of his objets d’amour. This particular version places all the blame directly on the wives and identifies the beard as symbol of male essence, constantly oppressed by scissor-happy women. Nonetheless, the Modigliani-meets-Peter Chung look of the figures and the background treatment are worth a peek. No subtitles, so I’ll summarize below each of the two parts.

Part 1

A modern day detective sets out to learn the truth about Blue Beard upon finding a piece of blue hair. He calls his wife to tell her of this discovery, only to be nagged half to death about the possibility of coming home late. The investigation must continue! Soon Bluebeard is found alive and well, just beyond the borders of alternate reality. [In Soviet Russia, alternate reality can be entered through the subway, by the way.] He admits his guilt but requests the detective’s ear for a chance to explain his reasons.

Blue Beard’s first wife is Marianna, an ultra-modern English fashionista who isn’t interested in Blue’s old-fashioned ways. She redecorates his palace to her own liking, then drives him mad with her weaves and pet dragon. As the rage wells up inside Blue Beard, his beard grows back, signaling that he’s had enough of this free-willed lady!

Part two below the jump.

Kowloon Walled City: The Modern Pirate Utopia

Sunlight comes only rarely, with a sliver slicing down between the ramshackle towers. The light here is fluorescent and the people packed sardine tight amongst twisting corridors. Some of the lower levels are widely considered uninhabitable due to trash. Up the street (if it can be called that) there’s a drug parlor with an unlicensed “doctor” open for business upstairs. They exist openly: there are no police because there is no law.

The above is not a description of a dystopian (or utopian) fantasia, but of the Kowloon Walled City which was very real. From 1945-1993, a political loophole created a zone of Hong Kong where there was no law. The resulting anarchic, hodge-podge monolith was the descendant of the pirate utopias of old: a testament to humanity’s ingenuity, greed, violence and tenacity. Here is a glimpse within the walls of one of the strangest human settlements ever.

Genderfork: Exploring Androgyny, Bending Binary

Androgyny” by Rasha XO. (Via Genderfork.)

Earlier this summer, Warren Ellis (yes, that one guy we reference every ten minutes on COILHOUSE, shaddup) posted some cogent thoughts on what he describes as the end of “The Patchwork Years” on the internet: “Nobody needs another linkblog… There are already thousands of them. The job of curation is being taken care of. Look ahead.” He’s right. I’m as guilty of rehashing as the next blogger, but yeah. Generally speaking, we could do with far less circle-jerk turd-polishing online.

Paraphrasing the feisty theater renegade Maya Gurantz, those of us in any position to create new media should be baking new bread instead of quibbling over stale crumbs. At the very least, we existing curators should be doing helluva lot more cogitating instead of regurgitating the same tired old ones and zeros. (“Hey dood, check out this awesome link via BoingBoing via Fark via Digg via Shlomo McFluffernutter’s Livejournal feed. Cut, paste, click.”)

More on internet culture’s addiction to shorthand tastemaking at some later date.

Meanwhile, even in these postulated-out, post-patchwork years, it’s still very possible to be galvanized by some vital new curator. Fellow bay area sasspot Whitney Moses emailed me a while back about a blog called Genderfork, run by Sarah Dopp.

Shave by Madame Raro. (Via Genderfork.)

Genderfork is an exploration of androgyny and gender variance through artistic photography and personal essays. Dopp has two personal goals for the project:

To compile all of the genderforking resources, imagery, and ideas that I come across on the web into one beautiful repository. I want to experience a sense of cohesion with these concepts — they all too often feel scattered and disparate.
To encourage a conversation around the grey areas of gender with friends, with strangers, and with strangers who need to become friends.
…because I think we can all agree: Gender is a loaded word.

Loaded, and how. That’s why complex arguments revolving around gay marriage and partnership rights can become so volatile so quickly, and why debate rages endlessly on between gender-abolitionist feminists and their less radical sisters. It’s why surprisingly empathetic reportage on 20/20 examining the lives of transgender children feels like a huge victory, and why my co-editors and I fought tooth and nail to find a way to publish Siege’s Neogender piece in Coilhouse Issue 01, if only in a limited capacity.

Wayne Martin Belger’s Pinhole Paraphenalia

Wayne Martin Belger builds pinhole cameras – this much can be said with certainty. The rest becomes as rain-blurred and effervescent as the images his unique apparatuses produce. Pinhole cameras are still popular among hobbyists and are occasionally hailed as the purest photographic tool. With no lenses between the tool and the subject, the scene, the light and the depth of field are captured in smoky stills – as if snapped by the mind’s eye. Experiencing these images for the first time is more like viewing impressions, memories.

As you can see above, WMB’s cameras are beyond mere tools, more than means to an end. While many artists long for the process more than the product, Belger has redefined process-love completely. His projects sometimes plant their seeds through the items he collects, other times through ideas, upon the birth of which collecting begins. The camera he used to photograph AIDS victims is built with a vial of AIDS-infected blood, the one with which he captured the secret life of deer is crowned with antlers, expectant mothers were shot with a camera within which an infant’s heart sits still. He’s used bees, human skulls, religious relics, and more. Each device built by Belger contains its sacred object, each otherworldly photo series is just part of a ritual and carries with it the spirit of the camera, the concept, the execution itself.

Belger and his exquisite cameras can be seen next at Device Gallery on September 13, at a special reception from 6 to 9 pm.

Concept Torment: Wearable Motorcycle

Things have been a bit slow around here – comrade Nadya is off gallivanting around the Nevada desert and comrade Mer’s traipsing about New York, where I was all weekend. Do pardon our regrouping and accept this small offering of oh my god it’s a wearable motorcycle.

It really is. Jake Loniak, a student at Art Center College of Design, presents this wonderful invention. Basically an electric, lithium battery-run exoskeleton with three wheels, Deus Ex Machina would be run by a computer which would translate and respond to the rider’s body with the motorcycle’s own thirty six pneumatic muscles. This SciFi dream-machine is envisioned by Loniak as a sport bike, and, as fate would have it, doesn’t exist beyond his concept as of yet. He’s confident in real world potential of Deus Ex Machina, anyhow: “I believe a working prototype could be made, but it would take a great deal of time and engineering. This isn’t fantasy – it’s a green vehicle, and all of the numbers are based in the real world”. How sweet it could be, Jake. Come on, technologically-inclined billionaires of the world, make it so!

While waiting for a physical prototype, we can torture ourselves with this realistically rendered video of Deus Ex machine in action. Thanks for the pain, Jerem.

The Motherland Needs a Word With You

Earlier this week, while taking a leisurely stroll along the information superhighway, I came across a peculiar image. Shot by Steven Meisel, it shows some of our best models dressed like something between a tea cozy and a Commie jackass. Paused by this discovery, I realized that it had gone too far. The Motherland was speaking though me, as if to say “Back up the Russia-philia train for just one moment, son”. I am but a messenger.

It is certainly not “wrong” to be inspired by an aesthetic, but when does inspiration breach on clownificated abuse? Example: I love Japan and its many offerings but draw the line at food & fashion inspiration. The second you see me throwing peace signs in photos, wearing a bejeweled eye patch or mixing half-baked Japanese slang into my speech, feel free to shoot on sight. So where do we draw the line when it comes to Russia-worship?

Borat advertising did it, countless graphic designers and industrial bands are guilty of If. The most common offense is replacing characters with similar-looking Cyrillic ones. One perfect example is this Repo! poster. If you were to actually read what film title spells out it would sound like “Yah-eh-roh Mdi”. What could have been a fine piece of art is now a buffoon. Take heed, designer.

More friendly observations below the jump.

Font Designer Recife Releases Misprinted Type 4.0

One of of Recife’s new fonts, “Hand-Made.”

Brazilian font designer and collage artist Eduardo Recife, famous for freely giving away some of the most beautiful fonts ever made, has just released a new version of Misprinted Type. The completely-redesigned site features 7 new fonts, 4 new drawings, 17 new collage illustrations and new original art in the web store.

Recife’s legendary font “Nars”

I’ve been following Recife’s site ever since version 2.0. His fonts are probably what got me interested in typography in the first place. I have to say that while some may consider Recife’s grunge-antique collage aesthetic “played out,” I don’t care. Looking at his work, I feel like it comes from a very genuine place. His style still gets to me every time – no matter how many shitty emo bands use it. Here’s to more Recife fonts in the years to come!

Margaret Cho’s New Television Show, Revealed

The Cho Show

In 1994, Margaret Cho starred in an ABC sitcom called All-American Girl – or, as Cho called it, “Saved by the Gong.” It was the first show about about an all-Asian American family on television. If you remember seeing it on TV, you remember how quickly it disappeared. Mainly, it failed because of network meddling with Margaret’s on-screen persona.

First the network decided that she wasn’t skinny enough, and put pressure on Margaret Cho to lose weight to play the part of herself. It didn’t help that show  was met with minimal enthusiasm by the Korean-American community; one 12-year-old Korean girl wrote in to say, “when I see Margaret Cho on television, I feel deep shame.” Panicked by this type of reaction, the network decided that Cho wasn’t Asian enough. To improve the situation, they hired an “Asian consultant” to teach Cho about chopsticks and not wearing shoes in the house. For some reason, that didn’t help! After consistently low ratings, the entire cast was fired except for Cho and the grandmother. Shortly thereafter, the show went up in smoke.

The Cho Show

Since then, Margaret Cho has done many wonderful things, including eight tours, two books and a burlesque show. But one thing she’s not done since All-American Girl was star in a television show – until now, with the arrival of The Cho Show. It’s the second-ever show about an all-Asian American family; no one’s tried since All-American Girl. Margaret vows that this time – along with her parents (real ones this time), her gays and her elegant 3’10” co-star Selene Luna – this time, the show gets made on her terms. Episode 1 premiered today, and I quite enjoyed it. The full episode is posted on Margaret Cho’s blog. Go Cho!

Wrong Address – Don’t Let it Happen to You!

Merry Mailman

This is a courtesy notice to suggest that those of you who bought Issue 1 of Coilhouse take an extra minute to make sure that you gave us the correct shipping address in PayPal. We only bring this up because it seems to be a common mistake: we’ve gotten about five emails now along the lines of “I accidentally forgot to select my new address, is it possible to change this?” If this problem occurs, of course we can fix it. We encourage everyone to find the automated email you received from PayPal after you ordered your copy and verify that the shipping address on there is correct. If you need a correction, please send an note to G., our unstoppable one-woman shipping powerhouse. She will get it straightened out ASAP. Please also note that we’ve been so inundated with an unexpected amount of orders (wow! thanks, guys!) that your magazines are being shipped 1 or 2 days after you place the order. We should be caught up by this weekend. Thank you!

Guess That Gadget!

First and foremost, thanks to everyone who already bought our first print issue! They’re swiftly on their way and will be trembling in your arms soon enough. Now I need to know – what do you see below? A comb? Binoculars? A fishing reel? You may need to guess again!

BBC News has a charming quiz up that tasks the reader with a serious mission – figure out the intended purpose of Victorian devices on display this week at the British Library. While some of us suffer from a rather unhealthy gadget-love, not all of these contraptions are as obvious as one might assume! Take the quiz here, and after [only after!], see another small gallery of the exhibit, here.

[Thanks, Lucinda and Jerem]