Zoetica’s Vinyl Stickers – Going Fast!

Just in case you missed this announcement elsewhere, Zo is selling these gorgeous contoured vinyl stickers of her original artwork over at her site, Biorequiem! There are two designs: Cumulus Confection, which appeared as one of the Coilhouse section headers in Issue 02, and Poke, an artwork that Zo released as fine-art print some time ago. The stickers are coated with a UV finish, making them resistant to discoloration over time. Get ’em before they’re gone!

Jane Quiet, Occult Detective

Much as her name would suggest, Jane Quiet is a woman of few words.

…none at all, to be exact.

But in all truthfulness, and surely most would agree, words completely fail to do justice to scenes such as the one depicted above!

I stumbled across Jane Quiet, Occult Investigator quite by accident, whilst conducting a bit of research on the internet; to further elaborate, it was a serendipitous miss-spelling of Dennis Wheatley which led me directly into her path. Heralded as a “Denise Wheatley,” Jane Quiet is the co-creation/collaboration which crept from the minds of author K.A. Laity (Unikirja) and artist Elena Steier (Revenge of the Vampire Bed and Breakfast, Goth Scouts). The comic “presents the adventures of occult investigator Dr. Jane Quiet who uses her practical knowledge and esoteric studies to uncover the sources of paranormal disturbances.” If that is not compelling enough, this author whose writing has been praised by Clive Barker as “full of fluent style and poetic dialogue” has added the twist of an entirely silent comic.

From the author’s website :

“I think it was Elena’s idea to riff on John Silence, the psychic investigator created by Algernon Blackwood, master of the weird tale, about a hundred years ago. John Silence was rich doctor, skilled in weird science and keen to explore occult phenomena. It was an idea ripe for reinvigoration.”

If you are curious as to how one goes about writing a story with no dialogue, inquiries and subsequent replies can be found in a snippet below.

Coilhouse And how did you find the find the process of “writing” a silent comic?

K.A. Laity: Thank you — it was hard as HELL to write! You can see the script online: http://www.kalaity.com/jq1.pdf. I think it was just an off-hand remark, “hey, we could make it a silent comic, wouldn’t that be appropriate!” then when I started writing it, I cursed myself endlessly for having the idea. There was a lot of back and forth while Elena was drawing – partly because she always has lots of projects going on, but also because she would say “you can’t do all this in one panel” and either draw what she thought would work or ask me to work it out more carefully. It’s great discipline. I’m glad Elena is so patient and flexible. The anxiety of collaborating with friends is fearing that it will affect your relationship if things go badly. I really had to let go of control and find joy in the unexpected frisson that would occur. A lot of it is about leaving a looseness for the other person to do what they do best. The first drafts weren’t quite Moore-like, but they were far too specific. I learned to focus on what had to happen and the tone, and let Elena produce her magic.

Farewell to Howard Zinn, the People’s Historian

“If history is to be creative, to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I believe, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, occasionally to win. I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past’s fugitive movements of compassion rather than in its solid centuries of warfare.”

—Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States

The news came yesterday that Howard Zinn — historian, veteran, playwright and activist — had died of a heart attack at the age of 87.

Zinn was best known for his magnum opus, A People’s History of the United States, and for relentless activism against war and oppression in every form he saw. He kept up the fight until the end; giving his last interview just days before his death.

Born to poor immigrants in Brooklyn, Zinn’s family constantly moved during his childhood, staying “one step ahead of the landlord.” He later recalled the experience of “living in poor neighborhoods, seeing people evicted from their homes, their furniture put out onto the street—it seemed to have nothing to do with race or ethnicity, just poverty and helplessness.”

His childhood left him experienced in desperation, and he soon found out about war as well. Enthusiastically joining the Army Air Force in World War II, Zinn flew bombing runs over Berlin, Czechoslovakia and Hungary before participating in the first military use of napalm in 1945. The horrors he witnessed drove him to become a life-long opponent of militarism, convinced that “war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.”

Upon his return, Zinn took up the career of an educator, but found his own experiences missing from the official histories of his country. He strove to change that, and, instead of standing back, leapt into the civil rights and anti-war movements, inspiring his pupils (including a young Alice Walker), securing the release of POWs from Hanoi and testifying about America’s role in Vietnam at the Pentagon Papers trial.

Through it all, he laid the groundwork for his masterpiece, a book that revealed an alternate universe of dissident uprisings and almost forgotten struggles, simmering just under the surface of the American Dream.

Portrait by Robert Shetterly

J.D. Salinger — 1919-2010

They’re dropping like flies this week, dear readers. Yesterday it was reported that both actress Zelda Rubinstein and author/historian Howard Zinn had died and today word comes that J.D. Salinger, famed author of Catcher in the Rye is also gone, at the ripe old age of 91. A recluse for most of his life, besides the occasional lawsuit to stop seemingly anyone from publishing any details about his life, one could be forgiven for thinking him already dead which, I suppose, might have pleased him immensely.

What we are left with is a blurry portrait, taken from accounts by a former lover and his daughter. The man who emerges is a narcissist with a penchant for Eastern philosophy, homeopathy, and drinking his own urine. It is, perhaps, not the most flattering of biographies.

Still, in the end, none of this really matters. Those who will mourn the loss of Salinger do not mourn him, so much as they mourn the man who gave us Holden Caulfield. In that sense, the frustration with Salinger’s reticence has less to do with the words from his mouth than those from his typewriter. All we are left with is a set of four, slim volumes and a handful of short stories, taking up precious little in the way of shelf space. And yet his most famous creation, the young Mr. Caulfield, endures in just about every aspect of adolescence in this country. One may dispute Salinger’s ability with the written word and it would be a far easier proposition than disputing his influence. In many ways, J.D. Salinger created the teenager we know today. The sullen, disenchanted, angry and, ultimately, sensitive young person was set in stone in Catcher in the Rye, the model for countless (if not all) counterculture icons since.

It may be that such effusive words are unwarranted when describing a book or its protagonist, but a book so widely read, so deeply entrenched in our culture, deserves nothing less. Ultimately it is a case of the work having far outgrown its creator; a creator who quickly came to despise both it and the fame it brought him. In that regard the loss of Salinger is already decades old.

When Lace Becomes Skin: The Serge Lutens Mystique

Please welcome two new guest bloggers to Coilhouse this week! Tomorrow, we have S. Elizabeth (who you may know as ghoulnexdoor on Tumblr) joining us for a fascinating look at Jane Quiet, Occult Detective. And today, we’re premiering a post from decadent fashion designer and long-time friend of Coilhouse, Kambriel. In addition to our two new guests, you will soon be treated to an account of San Francisco’s Edwardian Ball by Neil Girling, last seen on Coilhouse covering the Great Handcar Regatta of ’09. Without further ado, I give you Kambriel! – Nadya

“Beauty is the moment when you raise your head” – Serge Lutens

If there was one person who almost mystically inhabited the stylistic world of my own dream-mind starting in the mid-late ’80s, it would be the seemingly not-of-this-world French visionary, Serge Lutens. If you remember the eye-catchingly surreal and over-the-top, yet starkly minimalist graphics he created for Shiseido cosmetics in that era, they embodied a fantastical mystery taken to the extreme ideal. Sometime around 1989, Serge partnered with Shiseido to develop an eyeshadow trio entitled “Black Variations”. Packaged in a Zen-like, sleek black case, it was comprised of three shades. The colours in question? Black, black, and… black! The set was said to be inspired by lava – something that’s often inspired me in my own design work as well, with its ever-changing play of light, contrasting the depth of ultra-matte and sultry shimmering highlights – all translated into a language of divine and utter blackness.

Wizard of variations in black, Serge Lutens also is a master of conjuring extremes in vivid hues of whimsy, creating a world inhabited by willowy court jesters descended to visit us awhile from another universe:

For those with a spare $400-$600 burning a hole in your velvet-lined pocket, an oversized coffee table book of Serge’s photographic, surrealistic splendor is available here.

More images by Lutens, after the cut.

On to the Hexed One

Jay-Z’s hypnotic music video for the song On to the Next One was released as “the first music video of the decade” on the morning of 01/01/10. Of course, Vigilant Citizen – who you’ll remember for his incisive analysis of Lady Gaga’s true Masonic origins – was immediately on the case. Jay-Z has been on the Citizen shitlist ever since the rapper wore a “Do What Thou Wilt” shirt last August, so with the release of this video came righteous vindication and the kind of breathless analysis that causes sharp spikes in the purchasing of duct tape and canned beans amongst the site’s core readership. God-fearing truthseekers weren’t the only ones dissecting the macabre clip. In an article on Jay-Z’s ties to the art world, Slate commented on the clip’s symbols of wealth and status:

Jay-Z and the director Sam Brown jumble bluntly evocative status symbols—a bulging stack of hundreds, Armand de Brignac champagne—with more mysterious symbolism—a bell jar containing taxidermy birds, a swirling ink blot, those whipping cords (which, it bears mentioning, are lifted from the 2002 video for Interpol’s “Obstacle 1”). Some of the most memorable shots in the video are of black paint pouring down a diamond-covered skull. The skull is a replica of “For the Love of God,” a Damien Hirst sculpture that the British artist fabricated for about $30 million in 2007 and sold for a purported $100 million (to a group of investors that includes the Ukrainian billionaire Viktor Pinchuk and, oddly, Hirst himself). Like the Jaguar XJ, Hirst’s skull telegraphs extreme wealth, but that’s not all: Screaming its value while begging to be mulled over, it’s a status symbol and a puzzle in one.’

But Slate’s art-fag analysis is just part of the big cover-up, because this video’s occult powers are clearly beyond anything that even Vigilant Citizen could conceive of, as explained by Derek Jones from the Light of the Lamb Church (Mr. Jones’ breakdown is, perhaps, the true masterpiece here).

Satanic mind control issues aside, the video itself is well-played. Watching this clip is like stumbling across yet another mind-blowingly amazing, anonymous Tumblr blog where nothing is contextualized, nothing is credited, and nothing stays on top for long (hello, NOWITSDARK). Incredible images flash past your eyes as you continue to scroll down… sometimes you’ll recognize a film still or some fashion editorial from 10 months ago, but most times you have no idea, though you feverishly wish you did. You look at the image properties for a clue, and of course it’s only named something like “tumblr_kwqnmlcOoe1qa2t6ho1_500.jpg”. You will probably never know. This video captures the awed anxiety of seeing too many disembodied things in rapid succession.

Janelle Monae: Rockin’ Android on a Mission

Her first album was titled Metropolis, its follow-up – The Arch Android. She has killer rock n’ roll androgyne style and addictive musical-theater-trained pipes. Oh, she also does live painting and has her own label, too. Yet somehow, I hadn’t heard of Janelle Monae before this video for her single Many Moons popped up on my screen last week.

As you can see, Metropolis is a concept album. Its fictional protagonist Cindi Mayweather finds herself in the year 2719 and on the run from android law, because she’s in love with a human. Monae’s next three albums will follow Mayweather’s adventures, some of them in space.

Yep, I’m in full swoon. Monae’s influences might be more than a little transparent, but I just don’t care – the combination is fresh and it’s pop. Great pop, at that. There’s space and robots and art and she’s adorable, but above all that, she gives answers like this in interviews:

I am driven by the need for change. I have had many nightmares about our future and if we do keep living the way we do, killing the way we do, hating ourselves the way we do, I do believe we are headed to the great road of nowhere. I know that I was put on this earth to lead, not to be perfect, but to lead and display a positive example and that is what I will die trying to do.

And I actually believe these aren’t just producer-polished words – Janelle is already working on starting a non-profit organization to help disadvantaged girls develop their artistic side. When, in light of a Grammy nomination, she was asked if she enjoyed being photographed and interviewed, she said, “Only when I have something to say. I’m not a red carpet gal. I wear a uniform for god’s sake! I have a hair machine I stick my head into. I have other duties to worry about.”

You hear that, pop culture? More of it, please. Also, I need a hair machine.

Better Than Coffee: Rappin’ Grandma

Katie, wherever you are, you have the best grandma EVAR:

Via Everything Is Terrible.

“Call me eccentric I haven’t a doubt
I’ll labeled a whole lot worse and far out
When I roll down a springtime grassy green hill
You think I won’t but I betcha I will
Cause I’m over 21 considerably
and I’ve earned the right to be no one but me.”

Rad Omen’s “Rad Anthem” Music Video

“Rad Anthem” by Rad Omen. Directed by Nicholaus Goossen.

Gack! What a disgustingly perfect, perfectly disgusting piece of work.  Very “Dick in a (Happy Meal) Box”. One of those indelible wee slices of cultural tongue in stripper cheek that makes ya want to spit, laugh, cry, vomit, and masturbate all at the same time.

The four reigning icons of American fast food (Ronald, Jack, The Colonel and The King) get together for a boy’s night out and proceed to rampage up and down Sunset Strip like the douchiest of all popped collar, Entourage-aping broheims, gorging on drugs/booze/casual sex before retiring to Carney’s for late night refueling and condiment abuse. (The only thing missing is a cameo from the “yo quiero Taco Bell” chihuahua. Thankfully, comedian Nick Swardson‘s appearance as Wendy the stripper more than makes up for that omission.)

As Steven Gottlieb at Video Static puts it, “why wouldn’t fast food mascots live fast? After all, if they actually subsist on the shit they’re selling, it only stands to reason that they’d be just as tasteless with other aspects of their lives.” He goes on to state that the video “dry humps the line between parody and defamation” and I’d have to agree. It’s not as full-on chaotic neutral as “Smack My Bitch Up” or as viciously intelligent as “Windowlicker“. I’m giggling, but also left feeling the same vaguely irked “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG” sentiment that I get watching a mindless sausage-baster like “Country Girl“. Displays of entitled douchebaggery + vapid disco shitbeats + the unbidden, deeply personal olfactory memory of being accosted with the stench of other people’s McDonald’s = INSTINCTIVE WRATH.

So. Is this conscious social commentary, or just another music video that –more cleverly than most– panders to the lowest common denominator? Either way, it got a strong response from me (I sure didn’t intend to ramble on this long about it)! Kudos. Now I’m off to alleviate this emotional hangover by fixing myself a huge, healthy salad.

LACMA’s Andrei Tarkovsky Retrospective Starts NOW

Juxtaposing a person with an environment that is boundless, collating him with a countless number of people passing by close to him and far away, relating a person to the whole world, that is the meaning of cinema.
–Andrei Tarkovsky

Stalker (1979)

This is a heads up for the Andrei-lovin’ Zobotron as much as anyone else in SoCal: starting today (Jan 23), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art begins a complete retrospective of Tarkovsky’s films, with supplementary material. They will be screening Solaris, Ivan’s Childhood, Stalker, The Mirror, Nostalghia, Andrei Rublev, The Sacrifice, and two documentaries about Tarkovsky and his apocalyptic, mesmerizing work. Not to be missed.

The Mirror (1974)