Weekly Ad Uncoiling: Pattex Glue

Congratulations, Pattex. You receive the first copyranter lifetime achievement award for the most glue ever in glue ads. Loads of sticky gooey pearly … they’re semen sculptures! From Madam Jizzsaud’s epoxy museum! Ejaculate Elvis! Marilyn … uh, nevermind. And hey, Muhammad Ali’s still alive! Disgusting jokes aside, this campaign is dripping with wrongness.

The hard-to-read headline on all three is “Everlasting.” That’s one very dubious celebrity endorsement scheme, Pattex. And the facial likenesses are macabrely way-off. Elvis looks like zombie John Fogerty. Monroe looks more like Manson … and we could do without the tacky glue nipples, DDB Düsseldorf (the responsible ad agency). What’s wrong with you Düsseldoofuses? Your buddies at DDB Berlin produced a much saner Pattex ad. Btw, the most effective glue ad in marketing history? Easy.

[via I Believe in Advertising]

Bill Morrison at Silent Movie Theater

While one might think LA is a constantly-bumping party, culture and art zone, this isn’t always true. There are dry spells, unless you’re into the Sunset Strippin’, bar-hopping scene. This weekend, however, promises to be rather eventful. At 8 pm on Friday, The Machine Project [got my membership card in the mail last night!] has a lecture by Mark Allen on the topic of How Molecules Move Electrons – hardcore! And Saturday there is an art walk in Chinatown and, and, AND! A screening of Bill Morrison‘s short films at the at the Silent Movie Theater. You might remember this post by Mer showcasing Bill’s heart-stoppingly beautiful film, Light is Calling.

Still from Light Is Calling

The forgotten becomes unforgettable in the exquisite 35mm shorts of justly celebrated filmmaker Bill Morrison, known for his groundbreaking feature Decasia. Resisting the lures of kitsch, nostalgia and winking sarcasm, Morrison’s found footage films could be described as seances or invocations, playing on the idea of the motion picture as a kind of spiritual lost-and-found. Works like Light is Calling and The Mesmerist, which draw from damaged nitrate prints, let time perform its own commentary on the image. The Highwater Trilogy, a response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, looks at the representation of disaster through beautifully scarred archival clips. In these hauntological shadowplays, figures vanish into the flood of history, only to reemerge as ghostly apparitions and unreal visions. Also on the program are The Film Of Her and Outerborough.

The Silent Movie Theater can be found at 611 N Fairfax Avenue, LA. The tickets are $10 and the magic starts at 7:30.

Still from Decasia

All Tomorrows: Goodbye, Algis Budrys

I have spoken elsewhere of the stultifying weight thrown on us by the marketing practices of past generations , which attempted to parse out speculative fiction into tidy little categories and have resulted in inextricable concatenations. * The immediate point is that writers will speculate, and if their stories thrash a limb or two over some publisher’s tidy little fence and sprawl into the “next” “category,” tough tiddy. But then we descriptors of the milieu have to invent categories like “science adventure” and “science fantasy” and “heroic fantasy,” possibly — nay, certainly — because we readers have been taught that things come in little boxes. When something breaks through into the next box, we call the combined wreckage a new box.

* God, I love the language!

-Algis Budrys, April 1982

This is far too belated, and it arises out of Pat (thank you!) informing me in the comments of the last column that science fiction writer/critic extraordinaire Algis Budrys had died last June.

He published only a handful of books, though there’s more than one classic amongst them. By his own admission, however, what Budrys did best — as critic, historian and editor — was teach: he helped demolish the aforementioned boxes, making bad writing good and good writing superb. He even made a valiant attempt to take a professional sci-fi (a term he wasn’t horribly fond of) magazine online.

His role as a tester/pusher of new writing is needed now more than ever, and he’s left a very large hole to fill.

The Magenta Foundation Stares into the American Sun

What a historic day! Big, bonecrushing hugs from all of us here at CH headquarters to everyone else on planet earth who is rejoicing at the departure of the Bush administration. There will never be a better time to post the following human rights essay and interview that our staffer Jeff Wengrofsky (aka Agent Double Oh No) has been working on for months. At Coilhouse, we’re glad to supply subject matter ranging from the utterly frivolous to the deeply involved and intense. This piece goes in the latter category. We’re honored to provide a forum for Jeff’s in-depth, thought-provoking conversation with human rights activists Suzette Brunkhorst and Ronald Eissens. We hope that their story and struggle will move some of you as much as it has moved us. ~Mer

“Human institutions appear to be the obvious and obtrusive causes of
much mischief to mankind; yet in reality, they are light and superficial
…in comparison with those deeper seated causes of impurity
that…render turbid the whole stream of human life.“
– Thomas Malthus  (1798)

As membership is constitutive for a society, its conditions are routinely, if not essentially, contested.  More than any other society, America has wrestled with two competing notions of membership: one based on exclusion (class until 1824, race formally until 1870 and practically until 1965, and gender until 1920) and another based on inclusion and rooted in the Declaration of Independence’s influential clause: “all…are created equal.”  This quarrel over defining principles was apparent even in the drafting of the Declaration. Thomas Jefferson’s original document, later altered in a compromise, called for the abolition of slavery.  Jefferson himself was in love and sired children with Sally Hemings, an African-American who was the half-sister of his wife and his slave. And so, America was born in original sin under a star of some perversion with an ever-present element of redemption. Even today, America blinks like a giant, Masonic hologram, simultaneously symbolizing and embodying our greatest hope and, in the Bush years, our greatest disappointment.

In 1903, W.E.B. DuBois declared “the color line” to be the defining issue of the 20th Century. The election of Barack Hussein Obama Jr. opens up the question as to whether the United States has begun the new century by transcending racial exclusion. Surely the America of 1903 looks little like the America of today: African-Americans are no longer its largest ethnic minority, its citizenry includes significant numbers of people who do not fit into the black-white axis, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts rendered discrimination illegal 43 years ago, Affirmative Action dates back to J.F.K., intermarriage is not unusual, Martin Luther King’s birthday is a national holiday, racial bigotry has long since fallen into disrepute in the sciences and is not tolerated in polite conversation, and even the Bush Administration had African-Americans in its cabinet. On the other hand, police departments are often charged with brutality and “stop and frisk” policies that target black youth, African-Americans continue to be overrepresented among our nation’s most impoverished and undereducated and imprisoned, and African-Americans are the victim of more hate crime than any other group in the United States.

Certainly it is very unusual for the people of any society to select a member of a minority (however understood) to its highest office and, perhaps, this event is even more profound in a country whose entire history can be understood as a long and troubled march toward the fulfillment of its inclusive promise. Can 300 years of racial difference be transcended by legislation or election? Will Americans whose biographies are not like Obama’s accept his leadership in a time of economic and ecological crisis? With the election of Obama, is the United States once again poised to provide moral leadership (as it surely did in 1776)? Is international moral leadership possible? It seems as though history itself has opened and the full range of human potential – the good, the bad, and the ugly – are all equally likely.

What is “racism”? Are all bigotries a form of racism? Is racism conceptually distinct from other forms of ethnic chauvinism? The major genocides of the past century were, aside from the Nazi extermination of the Jews, not understood in racial terms: the Turkish-Armenian genocide (1915-18), the Turkish-Greek genocide (1914-23), Stalin’s liquidation of the Kulaks (1932-33), the Japanese-Chinese genocide in Nanking (1937-38), the Nigerian-Biafran genocide (1966-1970), the Pakistani-Bangladeshi genocide (1971), the Tutsi-Hutu genocide in Burundi (1972), Pol Pot’s Cambodian purges (1975-79), the Hutu-Tutsi genocide in Rwanda (1994), and the Serb-Bosnian genocide (1992-95).

Where do these cleavages, these notions of belonging and otherness, come from? They are found in various forms in every human society.  Sadly, our closest kin in the animal world also share this trait. Wars among chimpanzees and between apes have been noted by biologists since 1970. Are hatreds naturally rooted in “selfish genes”? If so, do we need unrealizable principles to inform our behavior and ground social criticism?

Is cosmopolitanism – the idea that one can be a “citizen of the world” – possible? Aren’t we always already embedded in cultural conversations, genetic inheritances, and political communities? Does anyone have arms long enough to embrace humanity as a whole? What do we do with those who return our embrace with bullets and bombs? Is cosmopolitanism an unrealistic retreat from the world as it actually is? Is cosmopolitanism a rhetorical strategy of the weak to keep the strong from winning?

Suzette Brunkhorst and Ronald Eissens.

On Thanksgiving, an American holiday whose lore bespeaks inclusion and exclusion, I sat down to discuss hate, race, and the limits of freedom in Holland, often considered among the freest places in this world, and on the internet, a transnational network, with Suzette Brunkhorst and Ronald Eissens, the Directors of the Magenta Foundation.  In their own words, “Magenta is a foundation that aims to combat racism and other forms of discrimination primarily on and through the Internet.” They have organized many high profile events in the name of inclusion and understanding, and have presented reports on bigotry before the United Nations and the O.S.C.E. Undeterred in the face of many death threats, they are cosmopolitan heroes. Sadly, just one day after this interview, Suzette was diagnosed with cancer and has since gone into chemotherapy. On this day, full of hope, let’s wish her a fast and painless recovery.

(Jeff’s full interview with Suzette Brunkhorst and Ronald Eissens appears after the jump.)

Crabapple Takes Los Angeles

Last week I had the dubious pleasure of hosting miss Molly Crabapple for a few days. She’s been gone just 48 hours, yet already I am longing for her presence every time I smell vodka or find long raven locks in my tub [which I am definitely not saving to braid into a tiny Molly-shaped doll]. This young lady gets mention around here with some regularity, and she deserves every bit of it. Founder of Doctor Sketchy’s Anti Art School, illustrator, columnist, and comic book artist, this NYC beauty has the world at her fingertips.

Seizing the rare opportunity of her presence, we attempted a video interview over cocktails. Watch the very, very informal results below – Molly talks about an upcoming European tour, working large-scale and a brand new comic book, Scarlett Takes Manhattan. Please forgive the awkward editing – I’m trying to spare you screeching and inappropriate touching.

Journalism uber alles! Click the jump for other fantastical drawings by Molly, including Marie Claire – one of the beautiful Rococo paper dolls she created for Coilhouse Magazine. The other doll is Monsieur Pierre – her fetching young suitor. Want to see him and their spectacular outfits? You’ll have to get your issue of Coilhouse 2! More can be found on Molly’s website, MollyCrabapple.com

BTC: Ambidexterous, Autonomous Phasing Soloist


It’s hard to quantify the effects minimalist composer Steve Reich’s “phasing” meditations can have on average human grey matter. The best way I know to describe my own listening experience is a wonky, tripped out sensation of neglected synaptic channels in my brainy bits being seared open and reconnected to other brainy bits in new and unusual ways. Occipital, Parietal, Temporal, Frontal, Limbic… feels like they’re all getting a rigorous, interactive workout. If I listen long enough to this sort of thing, it’ll pitch me into a contemplative state not quite beyond reflexive thinking, but certainly more relaxed, more present, somehow. Kinda like toking, but without “I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER” side effects.

Clip via Ben Morris, thanks. I truly don’t think it matters whether you have a staid background in music, or math, or both. Whether you understand wtf Aidu’s doing here or not, it’ll stir your noodles. Drop into this stuff and stew for a little while.

This abridged rendition of Reich’s “Piano Phase” by Russian concert pianist Peter Aidu is literally head-splitting. The piece is usually performed by two pianists, one of whom repeats the same sequence of notes over and over again at exactly the same tempo, while the other player gradually speeds up and then slows back down, eventually returning to a unified BPM before the pattern starts again. That’s basically all phasing is. Sounds simple enough, right? But try playing one part of it and you’ll soon realize just how difficult it is to sustain. As for performing two separate parts simultaneously? Great googly moogly.

Aidu’s concentration is astounding. He’s got the hypnotized, slightly crazed expression of someone who’s gone to another plane entirely. (It’s a look I always envy on other musician’s faces. If I could, I’d opt to live “in the zone” all the time.) If you like the clip, be sure to grab the full 20 minute version on archive.org.

Detractors of minimalist experimentation with phasing and polyrhythm all say the same thing; the resulting music is boring, pretentious, cerebral, emotionless. I suspect they’re missing the point entirely. Personally I find the form to be an invigorating causeway to the same meditative state invoked by more traditional forms like gamelan and ketjak. What do you think?

Click below for more Reich-related audiovisual trip toys.

Mark Gormley is Love.

Bricey, bless you. I don’t know where you discovered Mark Gormley, but he’s going to make our more adventurous readers extremely happy. The rest of you may want to stick with Panties With a Dick Hole and My Chemical Bromide or whatever else the kids are listening to nowadays, but for my money, none of that slick, overproduced teenybopper fare can compete with an honest, well-crafted song, a soulful voice, and cable access video stylings featuring a beautiful (if mildly befuddled) bikini model. Mark Gormley sends me over the moon:

Props to the Eccentric Phil Thomas Katt for giving Gormley this platform on his fine show, The Uncharted Zone. “The Most Important Music Television Show Along the Gulf Coast.” Hey, man, you’ve got my vote.

Click below for more Mark Gormley/Phil Thomas Katt productions.

Meet the Feebles (Not Your Average, Ordinary People)

Gather round, loves. One of our favorite longtime readers, Renaissance man and gentleman pervert Jerem Morrow, is finally dipping his toes into our fetid staff jacuzzi with this fond review of one of the most depraved Australasian cult films east of Bad Boy Bubby. Lets give him a warm round of nervous laughter and stifled coughing, shall we? The subject matter calls for nothing less!

‘Decade or more ago, I frequented an antiquated video store. Kinda place that still had VHS tapes. Crappy paintings of giant monsters, gangsters and vixens adorned the walls. It was called Video Adventures. The proprietor, Brian, was a true film aficionado, someone you never got tired of listening to ramble. That wonderful place saved me from whatever blockbuster atrocities the theaters were pumping out at the time.

Still, I wanted more. Something beyond the Evil Deads, Rocky Horrors and Blade Runners. Love them though I did (and do), I needed more boundary-pushing. My friends and I began an experiment: Proprietor Brian compiled a list of his 100 Least Rented Movies, and we endeavored to watch each and every one. Now, in my twilight years, my brainmeats aren’t what they used to be, but something tells me we didn’t make it quite so far. Still, a few gems passed before our cinephile eyes.

Which leads me to a major factor of What Me Me Weird:

Pre-LoTR Peter Jackson at his most outrageous. It’d be the Braindead/Bad Taste creator channeling Weird TV, had WTV happened first. It’s manic. It’s horrid. It’s brilliant trash cinema. Sweet transvestites find a kindred spirit in this fox puppet crooning a song entitled “Sodomy”. (Five words. Giant. Golden. Glitter. Splooging. Penises.)

Before I saw Bakshi‘s film version of Crumb‘s Fritz the Cat, I was traumatized by walrus-on-literal-sex-kitten soft-core. How about a journalist fly on the wall, mouth full of shit and wee insect heart full o’ spite? Check. Bunnies doing what bunnies do best, but with terrible, terrible consequences? Check. Strung out frog/lizard thingies languishing in a P.O.W. camp? Check. Lovesick singing hedgehogs? Check. Cow-on-cockroach fetish video? Hoo boy, check. And that ain’t the half of it.

Yes, Jackson and crew made me spew “WTFOMGODZILLA” before most anyone else. Maybe Richard O’Brien popped my cherry, but Rocky felt like home, whereas Meet The Feebles was outright alien territory. I was utterly unprepared for the brainpan dervish that played out before me, wracking me with I’MNOTREADY joy.

I can say, with absolute certainty, that renting it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Weekly Ad Uncoiling: Skittles

WHAT?!? (Watch video.) Now, Skittles, through ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day\NY, has done some truly bizarre candy advertising in the past couple of years. There was Long Beard, Piñata Man, Sour Milk, Sheep Boys, and, one of my all-time favorite commercials, the sadly hilarious Touch. But this spot is—as we say in the fake-wonderful land of ad creativity—trying waaay to hard. In case you missed it (I did), the Caucasian customer’s three reflections are an African-American, a Latino, and an Asian (Filipino, according to the YouTube description). And, the tailor is Thai. The Filipino reflection begins eating Skittles, prompting a complaint from white man, prompting a berating from the tailor, prompting the Filipino to complain “I’m hungry. I’m hungry, I haven’t eaten yet” (according to Adrants’s Angela Nativdad’s translation), prompting more berating, prompting the kicking of the mirror…tagline: “Reflect the rainbow. Taste the rainbow.” So, is this some sort of social advertising by M&M Mars? A rainbow coalition? Sorry, but a candy ad should just make me want to eat the candy, not contemplate hostilities between Southeast Asian countries.

Everyone Needs Some Thrift Shop Douche

Book cover found by Lelio (original post here). Pure horror!

I thought I’d ease you guys into this post with a picture of a fluffy kitten, because I’m about to post the wrongest shit ever. Think of this intro image as a reverse unicorn chaser, because I’m sadistic like that.

So the image above and the images below come from a cozy little LiveJournal community called thrifthorror. The concept behind this community is simple:

Some things you can’t even give away … except to the church’s thrift store. Saw an abomination unto taste at the Salvation Army? Encountered pure terror – or Junior’s faintly suggestive third grade clay pot marked at $7.99- at Goodwill? Send a picture, tell the story. Maybe through our combined efforts, that pot can find a home.

Most of the images posted speak for themselves, but they get ten times better with contributors’ colorful commentary. Some select favorites, with comments from the journal, below:

Top Row

1. Leave the Wright brothers alone!! [source]
2. This is what happens when you scramble duck eggs that were nearly ready to hatch. Imagine standing over the stove, compulsively poking at your eggs with a spatula, when a little yellow head pops up from the congealing mass of rapidly denaturing proteins. Then another little head. Then another. [source]
3. Santa wants you to bend over now. [source]

Middle Row

1. Choking the Chicken? (I know, it’s a goose) [source]
2. I think, think, it’s supposed to be a humorous cover for a tissue box. [source]
3. No trip to the thrift store is complete without a pig orgy. [source]

Bottom Row

1. Take a picture, it lasts longer. [source]
2. Actually, I know where all those scuffs are from. I mean, it’s pretty obvious. This kid got beaten up. A lot. [source]
3. Everyone needs some thrift shop douche! [source]