Farewell, Rowland S. Howard

Rowland S. Howard, [via]

And the hits just keep on coming. Rowland S. Howard –patron saint of stabby, moody, stark, atmospheric, echo-soaked guitar perfection, and an indispensable member of the Birthday Party, the Boys Next Door, Crime & the City Solution, and These Immortal Souls– has succumbed to liver cancer, aged 50.

Howard remained a vibrant, prolific talent up to the very end. Longtime friend and bandmate Mick Harvey says:

Sometimes people are ready to go because they have been sick for a long time, but Rowland really wanted to live. Things were going well for him outside of his health and he wanted to take advantage of that and he was very disappointed that he wasn’t well enough to do so.

Nick Cave and Rowland S. Howard, Birthday Party era, early 80s. Photographer unknown. [via]

It’s already New Year’s day here in Australasia, where Howard hailed from. Last night, in his honor (and on behalf of everyone else who has struggled more than usual this year) me and mine donned our blackest, pointiest, shiniest boots and kicked 2009 relentlessly in the poop chute until the fucker left the building. Soundtrack included “Shivers”, “Hamlet Pow, Pow, Pow”, “Release the Bats”, “Big Jesus Trashcan”, “Her Room of Lights”, “Pop Crimes”, and “Jennifer’s Veil” to name a few.

This is the journey
To the edge of the night…

Rest in peace.

Ricky Gervais Tortures Elmo

My original thoughts for a post today involved something about the lurking new year. This, plainly, is not that post. No, this is a clip of Ricky Gervais torturing Elmo with sleep deprivation on Sesame Street. If it wasn’t so well done it might be mistaken for a C.I.A. training video, something like “Human Intelligence for Kids!” I’m not sure what Mr. Gervais is trying to get from Elmo, but whatever it is, it is of vital importance. That, or he’s a bit miffed that Elmo didn’t know who he was.

Madame Peripetie vs. Eva Nyiri: Warriors in the Dark

These Nomi-inspired pieces were created by Hungarian designer Eva Nyiri. Her first collection, a slick robotic-samuri affair titled “Black on Black,” sparked awe on blogs such as Haute Macabre earlier this year. Nyiri’s work represents a new breed of sophisticated, grownup-goth Eastern European fashion designers, along with fellow Hungarian Dora Mojzes (Nyiri’s best friend of 10 years), Serbian-based Marko Mitanovski, and Slovenian prodigy Tea Bauer.

This week, German photographer Madame Peripetie – who you may remember from the impossible-shoe Insectarium series – published her new collaboration with Nyiri, titled “Warriors in the Dark.” The full shoot consists of twelve images, and can be found in the latest issue of Nico Magazine. More images from the shoot can be seen at the Larapixie blog. Expect more great things from both Peripetie and Nyiri in 2010!

BTC: It’s Firecracker Injury and Prevention Month*

*In the Philippines, online anyway.

Gotta wonder if the amount of celebratory explosive devices (bottle rockets, prescription squibs, ask sparklers) set off between now and Jan 2nd will decrease this year in the wake of airline shenanigans perpetrated by one Mister Sizzly Pants. Doubtful. We do so love to blow shit up.

Please, just play safe with the splodey stuff, comrades. At least try to be self-preserving, eh? Not like these guys:

Da banger in der bunger! (NSFW)


…Between One Man, One Woman, and a Broken Bottle


“Merry Christmas, Queens!”

Just in case you missed it, here’s some lively footage shot by the LGBT activists who crashed Hiram Monserrate‘s Christmas party in Queens on Dec 22. Quote du jour: “Hiram believes marriage should be between one man, one woman and a broken bottle.” YOW.

Tensions have been running extremely high in NYC since several Democratic senators shocked gay civil rights supporters by ensuring the rejection of a bill to legalize same sex marriage. The final vote was 38 to 24.

Understandably, proponents of the bill have been feeling an extra bit of ire toward Monserrate. Convicted of misdemeanor assault charges in October for assaulting his girlfriend (allegedly with a piece of broken glass), the Queens lawmaker had initially voiced support for the bill, but later changed his vote to nay. “Meanwhile he wants to marry his girlfriend and he wants Sen. Ruben Diaz, who has been raging against gay people in New York forever, and who is an ordained minister, to marry him.” (via)

Gay activist Jon-Marc McDonald at a rally for marriage equality in New York City on December 3, 2009.

Watch to the end to see the protesters being congenially escorted out of the building (“thank you very much, brother, appreciate it, have a good evening!”), where they questioned Monserrate’s openly gay chief of staff, Wayne Mahlke, who replied that he did not share the senator’s views.

The Life, Debt and Death of Vic Chesnutt

Photo by Ben McCormick

Singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt intentionally overdosed on muscle relaxers, lapsed into a coma and died Christmas morning, aged 45, in his hometown of Athens, Georgia. A memorial service was held for him today.

Many are devastated, some are angry, few seem surprised. In addition to his physical impediments (he’d been wheelchair bound since 1983 when a drunk-driving accident left him paralyzed from the waist down with limited use of his hands and arms), Chesnutt struggled his entire adult life with crippling depression. He channeled this anguish into writing raw, unflinching songs that tackle the pain of the human condition head on, often with a wicked sense of humor.

His scrappy authenticity garnered the love and respect of a wide variety of fellow musicians, from Jeff Mangum to Michael Stipe to Patti Smith. His band lineups over the years included members of Fugazi, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Elf Power, Throwing Muses, and more.

In 1996, Garbage, Smashing Pumpkins, REM, Sparklehorse, the Indigo Girls and others covered Mr. Chesnutt’s songs for Sweet Relief II: The Gravity of the Situation, a tribute album benefiting a foundation that raises funds to help pay the medical bills of uninsured musicians.


It was, needless to say, a cause close to the decedent’s heart. There can be no doubt that Chesnutt’s ongoing struggle to pay off Sisyphean medical costs contributed to his despair. He’d recently been served with a lawsuit filed by a Georgia hospital after accruing surgery bills totaling over $70,000. He couldn’t afford more than hospitalization insurance, and was no longer able to keep up with the payments. From an interview with the LA Times earlier this month:

I really have no idea what I’m going to do. It seems absurd they can charge this much. When I think about all this, it gets me so furious. I could die tomorrow because of other operations I need that I can’t afford. I could die any day now, but I don’t want to pay them another nickel.

What a nightmare. Now is not the time to get into a political discussion about health care reform in the United States (actually, no, strike that– it’s probably the perfect time… I just don’t personally have the stomach for one at the moment) but it’s worth at least acknowledging that the horrific plight of the uninsurable is one faced by untold millions of far less luminary –and conflicted– Americans than Vic Chesnutt.

Chesnutt’s good friend Kristin Hersh has set up a tribute page accepting donations. 100% of that money will go to his family.


Milwaukee Mike’s Definitive Phantom Menace Review

Chances are good you’ve already heard tell of Mike from Milwaukee and his 70 minute long YouTube video review of The Phantom Menace. But have you actually taken the time to sit down and watch this vitriolic magnum opus?! I’m not gonna say “you haven’t lived” or anything, but this has got to be one of the funniest, most devastating blockbuster smackdowns in the history of cinema, let alone the internet.

Post-holiday depression can be a bitch. Let heathenish laughter cure what ails you, and pass the pizza rolls.

The Friday Afternoon Movie: Black Christmas

Alright, this is it. This is the last Christmas post. Maybe. I think. Alright, at least from me it’s the last Christmas post. Either way, let it be known that the FAM stops for no man, woman, child, or holiday. The FAM is an intractable juggernaut; a force of nature. While the mighty wheels of Industry may grind to a halt on this day, the FAM is unwavering.

“Agnes, it’s me, Billy.”

Yes today’s FAM, in keeping with the holiday spirit, is Bob Clark’s Black Christmas, starring Margot Kidder. On the face of it Black Christmas seems like a typical slasher flick: sorority girls, creepy phone calls, and plenty of screaming. But it manages to overcome the limitations of it’s genre, making for a genuinely unsettling experience. Most of this is no doubt due to the masterfully crafted character of Billy. Never really seen, except for a brief shot of his eyes, the girls are only aware of his presence through the aforementioned phone calls; horrible, growling, squealing phone calls; his mood constantly shifting; pleading, threatening, angry, pitiful phone calls. Meanwhile, the viewer is much more in tune with Billy, his every deed played out from a first person perspective. Indeed, that may be Black Christmas’s greatest trick. We are complicit in these terrible acts. We are, in some ways, the perpetrators. It is only afterward that we are startled awake, left to the realization of what we’ve done, when that awful voice is heard through the receiver.

Black Christmas has achieved rightful cult status. In fact many may only know it from Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments. Clark himself is, of course, better known for another holiday classic, 1983’s A Christmas Story. His first Christmas outing, though, deserves more. It’s easy to dismiss Black Christmas as a simple slasher but to do so would ignore the superb sense of dread that he manages to achieve; to overlook all the subtleties and ambiguity that Clark was smart enough to include. So much is left unfinished and so little closure is provided to the viewer and justifiably so. After all the horrible things we’ve done to these girls, what solace do we deserve?

This is Goin’ Out to All the Naughty Ones…

(Sorry, yeah, it’s a rerun. But it never gets old! Merry xmas, naughties of the aughties.)

Merry Christmas From The Future

At least, malady as imagined by the late illustrator Ed Emshwiller. A future in which a twisted and mutated Santa Claus, an extra pair of arms sprouting from the sides of his torso — no doubt due to prolonged exposure to radiation — looks down upon the horrible, alien carolers that have come to serenade him in his fallout shelter. A future where robots, those accursed machines, soil the holiday in another sick attempt to replicate their creators by erecting a cold, joyless approximation of a Christmas tree. It is a bleak, bleak future dear readers. Let us hope it never comes to pass.

via retro_futurism