All Tomorrows: Special Holiday Intermission

The image (Sci-Fi Christmas, via AdsOfTheWorld) above came after I utterly failed to find pictures of Samuel Delany, Tanith Lee, Joanna Russ or the late, great Octavia Butler in a festive and appropriately seasonal hat. If anyone can remedy this gaping, unforgivable hole in the historical record, please let me know. Until then, bah humbug.

All Tomorrows will be taking a special holiday intermission as I’ll be traveling for the holidays this week and I imagine many of you wonderful people will be similarly occupied. It will return, full force, on Dec. 30. We have many stunningly written worlds – weird, beautiful and hellish – in store for you lucky souls.

In the meantime, have the Star Wars Holiday Special. You’ll never want to do anything but read (far, far away from the moving images) ever again.

The Great Tyrant

The spectacle above was The Pointy Shoe Factory – a Texan ensemble whose turbulent sound I fell in love with 7 years ago, while working a shpooky retail gig. I discovered them behind the shop stereo on a scratched-up, home-made CD. Dramatic and dirty, the album felt almost like a film score. If in his 20s Angelo Badalamenti himself had a doom band that played in smoky Lynchean lounges it would sound like this. I looked for more, but the band had broken up for all the classic reasons: money, women, drugs and backstabbing. Daron Beck – TPSF vocalist and, as it turned out, the one who abandoned that CD at my old job – had apparently lost his mind. He was busying himself with a stint on American Idol, sitting in with various bands and playing strangely affected solo shows under the name “The Passion Of Daron Beck”.

The Great Tyrant 7″ album art by the talented David D’Andrea

This unseemly behavior halted when The Great Tyrant was formed. The band has now been together for three years, with Beck as crooner, wailer and keyboardist,  Jon Teague on drums and Tommy Atkins on bass. Both Teague and Atkins are formerly of Yeti – a space-prog band TPSF performed with regularly. The three site a long and erratic list of influences, among them Scott Walker, Il Baletto di Bronzo and Swans. While this configuration is smaller than The Pointy Shoe Factory, the sound is not. Still thoroughly theatrical and doomy, The Great Tyrant drowns the senses in expert noise and takes the brain for a stroll along the edge of pandemonium. Have listen to Candy Canes, the A side of TGT’s 7? while you watch the video, made for the band by Nouvelle Mode Films.

A seemingly sane Daron reports that being part of The Great Tyrant has been a tremendous learning experience, and that playing with Jon and Tommy is everything he could wish for in a band. Feel the love! They have finished their first full length album and are looking for a label to put it out on vinyl – any takers? There is a plan for a West Coast tour in the fall [wheee!] and a split 12? with Human Anomaly [ex-Noothgrush] that should be out by early fall. As we wait for hard copies of an album to become available [or an official website, for that matter], I suggest you keep a close eye on The Great Tyrant myspace page. And if you’re in Dallas, you can see them live on December 28, 9pm at Double Wide.

Julia Frodahl and Edison Woods

Photo by Elisabet Davidsdottir.

Julia Frodahl is a dreamy dove, a love, a healer, and dare I say, the most precious of precious snowflakes. When I use the word precious, I don’t mean it in a cloying or derisive manner. Julia is truly precious in the incalculably valuable, rare and astonishing sense of that word, like the Baroda Diamond, like a unicorn found wandering the streets of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Music video for Edison Wood’s “Last Night I Dreamt I Would Last Forever” directed by Alicia Reginato, 2008

As an accomplished yoga instructor (according to some, she’s one of the best inversion teachers in New England), her serene approach to the yoga asana practice is paired with a deep working knowledge of human anatomy and alignment. As lead songwriter, singer and keyboardist for the chamber orchestra Edison Woods, she infuses her music with a pensive, wintry grace that makes me think of pure white things: falling snow and eiderdown, powdered sugar, frost, pearls.

Listen for yourself. Here’s Edison Woods’ “Shirts for Pennies”:

Photo by Sebastian Mlynarski.

Click through for more photos of the exquisite Mme Julia, and a rave review of Edison Wood’s album Seven Principles of Leave No Trace from All Music Guide.

Underground City: Deep Down into Derinkuyu


Through history, Anatolia’s rarely been the most peaceful region – just between Europe and the Middle East, it’s seen a stream of invading armies and battling creeds over the centuries. Little wonder, then, that beginning a long damn time ago (8,000 B.C. or 1400 B.C. depending on who you believe), someone around the small town of Derinkuyu decided on an obvious solution: if the other guy’s got an army and you don’t want to die, go underground.

Yes, this is obvious. Notice that in the popular imagination secret societies and super villains love, in all their chthonic splendor; underground passages, catacombs and hidden chambers. So too did the embattled denizens and dissident religious sects of Cappadocia, and there’s been over 200 such refuges located in this region, with 40 having more than three levels.


But Derinkuyu is different. This is a veritable city under the earth.

Ghostride the Whip Shoes


Laughter, careful consideration, disbelief and finally reluctant desire are the steps my brain took in reaction to these unique Bed Shoes. Endowed with whips at the tips, they would make a great addition to The Pervert’s Guide to Etsy! Custom handmade by the talented Isabelle Chiariotti a.k.a. Etsy seller Isakaos, these bad puppies are good for one thing only, and that ain’t walking.

Unlike the majority of fetish footwear out there, the heel itself isn’t that high. I assume this is to lower the already-lofty risk of the brave owner’s collapse. I suggest pretending you’ve got a pair on your feet right now, and all the ways you could make use of them. For extra fun, imagine you are trying to actually walk in them and all the elegant ways you’d smash your face as a result.

Seriously, though – if anyone here buys these and learns to walk, dance or [especially] do gymnastics in them, we want video. And a dark part of me still wants a pair.

2 New Blogs are Good Cop, Bad Cop of Alt Fashion

Clockwise: fantastic finds via Haute Macabre, via Haute Macabre,
via Stylecunt, via Stylecunt

Finally – a classy gothic fashion blog! Via Gala Darling comes news of Haute Macabre, a vibrant, well-designed blog devoted to all things stylishly darque. “As you can guess from the title,” writes Gala, “it’s about high-end gawthick living. It’s for those of us who never really outgrew our goth sensibilities — the ones who idolised Wednesday Addams as an adolescent heroine, the ones who like things dark but don’t take it too seriously, the ones who can’t resist when fetishy fashion comes sashaying down the catwalk in Paris.” The blog’s primary authors are Samantha (whose site appears to be down) and Nixon Sixx, and other contributors so far include Gala herself, Courtney Riot (in a design capacity) and last but not least, our very own Zo!

The site is still “in beta,” but there are already six pages of eye candy to feast on. From luscious scans of thousand-dollar gothic-themed magazine shoots to practical lists of gothy items under $10, there’s something in store for fashionistas of all stripes.

Image from Elle Italia shoot, spotted by Haute Macabre. More here.

While we’re on the subject of alternative fashion blogs, it’s also worth mentioning Stylecunt. While that name makes me cringe, I’ll say this: the blog’s anonymous author has a keen eye for fashion and doesn’t shy away from cold-eyed, Gawker-style snark. The tone is apparent from Post Number One, where the author explains the blog’s raison d’être:

Remember when alt fashion was… fashionable? At least we thought it was. Alt fashion exploded in the nineties, fulfilling those of us that were not content with shopping at Old Navy. Time has passed, fashion is evolving, but are we? Years later and here we are, covered in the same black vinyl and cheap fishnet. One day, I had enough.

The writing on Stylecunt is hard to follow at times due to the careless grammar, and seems to be most lucid when we find the author chastising clothing labels for perceived bad choices. “Why are you still doing this to those poor goth kids who don’t know any better?” laments the author at this Lip Service catalogue photo. And it’s great to finally see someone tell Junker Designs, “it’s lovely that Alice Cooper is wearing your overly detailed and distressed leather pants, but it might be nice to actually see what they look like.”

Refreshingly, both blogs pay attention to men’s fashion, an oft-neglected topic in the alt fashion press (sorry, this doesn’t count). At Stylecunt there’s a nice post about Plazmalab, and over at Haute Macabre there’s even a well-populated category titled “For the Gents.”

Here’s hoping that 2009 will bring tons of new fashion to keep both these blogs busy. Enjoy!

Ernst Haeckel’s Secret Origins Revealed


New research has uncovered the origins of Earnst Haeckel, the turn-of-the-century German biologist/artist revered to this day by both scientists and designers alike for his awe-inspiring biological engravings (if you’re unfamiliar with Haeckel, click here immediately). His surprising origin: greeting card designer! Historian John Holbo elaborates:

Ernst Haeckel’s 1904 “Kunstformen der Natur” [Artforms of Nature] is a classic of biological illustration. What is less generally known is that the artist started as a Christmas card designer. The book was originally simply an album of holiday designs.

“All the sweet things that the Squiddies/Twittering in the dewy spray/Wish each other in the springtime/I wish you this happy day.”

During the Victorian era Christmas was indeed regarded as a ‘happy’ day, but one of uncanny terror; accordingly, cards and ornamentation featured strange creatures with too many tentacles. But then Santa Claus became popular, and many of these older designs ‘fell out of fashion’.

Commercially marooned, unable to draw anything except tentacles and congeries of pustules/bubbles, Haeckel wandered into natural ‘science’ – almost as an afterthought – when he discovered that the stuff he had been drawing actually existed, give or take a tentacle. Isn’t that interesting?

It also turns out that Ada Byron Lovelace was his mom. History is awesome! You can see the Haeckel greeting cards Holbo’s Flickr stream, and purchase reproductions here.

Coilhouse Issue 02 is About to Rock Your Soulmeat


Issue 02 is real! And it’s out in just a few days! Yes – it’s finally happening, and this is your first sneak peek. You’re looking at the inside cover, featuring badass beauty warrior queen Margaret Cho. We won’t reveal the s0oper se3krit, ultra-faboo cover cover for a few more days, but we can tell you three things about it. Number one, it was shot exclusively for Coilhouse, so you’ve never seen it before. Number two, there are many more pigeons in it. Many, many more. And number three, while Margaret’s not on the outside cover, the person on the cover is one of her most notorious partners in crime. Who can it be, now? You’ll find out very soon!

Expect a full post announcing the contents Issue 02 soon. Get your dollars ready. This will be a great New Year’s gift, and a great gift for slackers who like to give their Christmas gift after the holiday has passed. (Uh… that’s our clever way of saying we won’t have it stocked in time for it to arrive on the 25th.)

Everyone who worked on this feels that Coilhouse Issue 02 has gone above and beyond what was accomplished with Issue 01. While 01 will always remain special (and “special,” considering the typos) to us, with this issue we really progressed to the next level in every area, from the depth of content, to overall cohesiveness, to the graphic design. The difference between Issue 01 and Issue 02 is a bit like the difference between the pilot episode and the first real episode of a series. You’ll see what we mean. Just you wait!

Three Feats of Hair Engineering

1. You can’t go wrong with intestine hair on a bug-eyed, lumpy-necked carapacial giraffe. Especially on that powder-soft, baby-pink background. It’s like someone crossed this painting of Shirley Temple with this painting by Brom. Well-done. The mask here was crafted by Manuel Albarran. Photographer unknown. Larger image here.

2. Found this image on Flickr one night while doing research for a photoshoot. I know this is completely fake, but hey: I am tagging this post “Architecture,” just on account of this epic masterpiece of engineering. Anyone who can identify the source of this image gets a free can of Aquanet Extra Super Hold when they order Issue 02.

3. My favorite image from Japanese artist/designer Nagi Noda’s “Hair Hats” project, which we blogged about a few months ago. Tragically, between that blog post and this one, the talented Nagi Noda passed away at the young age of 35. Perhaps this is a sad way to end a fluffy and fun post, but I’ve been wanting to mention this for some time – may as well be this post, which I hope brings much merriment. Nagi, you’ll be missed.

All Tomorrows: “Cat Karina”

Welcome back to All Tomorrows, dear reader, where we weekly comb possible futures from science fiction’s glorious deviant age (circa mid-’60s to mid-’80s). This time, we’ve got the late Michael G. (for Greatrex, best sci-fi middle name ever) Coney’s 1982 novel Cat Karina, as strange a tomorrow as you’re likely to see.

At some unspecified (by our time scale, at least) point in the future, humanity’s starfaring civilization has collapsed, leaving True Humans and “Specialists” (human animal-hybrids originally engineered for colonization) in an uneasy peace. On top of it all, the entire damn planet’s converted en masse to an alien religion called the Kikihuahua Examples, forbidding metal working, fire and killing. In all this, a young “felina” named Karina gets tied in with an immortal race of sorceresses, the Dedos, trying to manipulate possible futures to release their alien god from a reality bomb prison laid by clones of Hitler.

Got that?

The result of all the above could have, should have been a complete and utter mess. Instead, Coney pulls off a future shock fairy tale (and parable) for the ages. More about why vegetarian bat aliens will doom us all, after the jump.