If anything Henrik Sønniksen’s Vegeterrible enforces my hatred for and distrust of the Avacado. With skin like pleather and innards the color and texture of fetid library paste, they are a Horrid and Awful produce. Deep down they are all rotten. Deep down, they are all monsters.

via DRAWN!

Werner Herzog Reads Your Favorite Children’s Books

Truly there is no one better to explain the cold, harsh reality of our favorite children’s classics than Werner Herzog. The famed German director is the ideal candidate to narrate George’s lesson in the nature of desire, plucked from the sprawling jungle that was his home. Who better to chronicle the affection Mike Mulligan has for his steam-shovel, an affection “out of proportion with social norms”? The director of Nosferatu the Vampyre and Fitzcarraldo that’s who. He possesses the cool, calculating eye required to look through the whimsical veneer of these tales and gaze upon the cruel truths within; to drag you kicking and screaming from the safety of childish innocence and in his melodious Deutsche tones, birth you anew.

BTC: The Filthy Monkey, It Smokes

The YouTube channel of Michael and Maria Start is chock full of intricate, whimsical, and occasionally very creepy vintage automatons. Here’s a playlist of several of them:

Something about that first clip –featuring a dignified chain-smoking primate puffing away to a slightly drunken rendition of “Air on a G-String”– reminds me of our cherished Uncle Warren. It’s his birthday today (edit: er, in New Zealand… more likely tomorrow where you are). Go give the man some love, comrades. Maybe a foot-rub and some single malt scotch, or the still-beating heart of a virgin goatherd.

“Cerebus Valentines for That Special Void in Your Life”

Courtesy of the ingenious Comics Alliance blog comes a fairly obscure in-joke that will have comics geeks rolling on the floor laughing– a series of Dave Sim-satirizing Valentine’s Day cards:

“Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and for all you gentlemen out there with a special lady in your life, there can be a lot of pressure to tell her exactly how you feel — or at least to find a Valentine’s Day card that says it for you.”

“Well, when we here at ComicsAlliance think of romance in comics, only one name comes to mind: Dave Sim. With that in mind, we’ve created a series of Valentines based on Sim’s legendary indie comic Cerebus and the many insights into women and relationships that he offered in the long-running series about a sword-fighting aardvark. You’re welcome to download them and send them to your special someone — we think they’ll have the ladies swooning!”

For those of you who are going “BUHHH?”, here’s some context: the only thing potentially more legendary than the artistry Dave Sim displayed in his Cerebus series is the mental, misogynist ranting he’d often print in its back pages. He’s basically the brilliant, fulminating Eminem of self-published comics (only it seems like he takes himself a lot more seriously than Marshall Mathers). You gotta love him… at arm’s length. Especially if you have a vagina. There’s only so much pure, blinding Male Light a gal can take!

More cards here.

Friday Afternoon Movie: North Korean Double Feature

I’ve been on a bit of a North Korea kick, if one can call wanting to learn about a impoverished, starving nation under the heel of a totalitarian dictatorship such a thing. Having recently completed Barbara Demick’s excellent book Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea I’ve since moved onto Bradley K. Martin’s Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty, making for an interesting, though not particularly uplifting, reading marathon.

Along with that I have been trying to find as much as I can watch about North Korea as well, and thus far the most interesting, especially in relation to one another, have been 2001’s Welcome to North Korea by Peter Tetteroo and Raymond Feddema and Vice’s unsurprisingly slightly irreverent, The Vice Guide to North Korea. Both are fascinating separately but also in what they reveal as being the same. In the seven years separating them little to nothing has changed except, perhaps, the erosion of North Korea’s building and, of course, its people.

Little changed is the North Korean government’s control over information leaving the country. Tetteroo and Feddema perhaps have the upper hand here, relying less on anecdotal evidence and more on their surreptitiously shot footage. Vice, on the other hand, gives a more complete idea of the showmanship here and a detailed look at the facade erected to impress the few visitors allowed inside its borders. The images of Vice’s Shane Smith, alone in a banquet hall, set for hundreds who will never arrive, each plate carefully arranged with what he describes as “fried matter”, might be laughable but watching the workers carefully put away all the uneaten food and unused tableware, to be presented to the next, state-authorized guest, renders it terrifying.

The fascination, should there be any doubts, lies firmly in the lack of information, the mystery of this place. We live in a society that is awash in information. Right now you have, at your fingertips, more of it than you will ever be able to consume. Yet this country, it’s public image so meticulously (if futilely) preened, its infrastructure so decimated that at night it is seen by satellites as a great black pit above the glowing affluence of South Korea, allows only the smallest drips and drabs to escape, and then only under duress. The reality of North Korea is one that must be stolen. It must be secreted out of the country. It must be extracted from those who have escaped its sphere of influence, and having done so have banished themselves from their homeland. I hope that, in time, this will change. In the meantime I am thankful to those brave people have allowed me this glimpse into what is effectively a nation of shadows.

Redmoon’s Curious Cabinet

Photo by Sean Williams, 2005 production.

Why don’t ALL puppeteers wear monocles and do acrobatics while performing? That was my first thought while watching Redmoon Theater’s latest marvel, The Cabinet. As the show begins, the audience is faced with a wall sized wooden cabinet, its face riddled with oddly shaped drawers and compartments. Suddenly, a door slams open and gloved hands slide a gramophone out from behind a curtain. More doors open to reveal a darkened stage. Then, as if through the hissing and static of an ancient recording, the voice of the protagonist begins to tell his tale, the story of an unwittingly murderous somnambulist.

Photo by Ryan Bourque, 2010 production.

Coilhouse being what it is, I have the feeling that at least a few of you are already familiar with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the 1919 silent film that inspired Redmoon’s production. It is a story with as many layers as a matryoshka doll, but on the surface, it tells the tale of a hapless somnambulist (Cesare) who falls into the clutches of a nefarious doctor (Dr. Caligari) who uses the young man as a pawn in his murderous schemes. Ultimately, we discover that the story we have just been told was the delusion of a man in an asylum, trapped within his own mind– a dream within a dream.

Photo by Sean Williams, 2005 production.

The Photography Of Amy Stein

Amy Stein’s photography is stuck somewhere between found and posed. Her subjects, no doubt interrupted while going about their routine, are nevertheless mugging for the camera, that wonderful grain giving each image the quality of a item found in a box at a garage sail. They occupy that perfect intersection between real and manufactured that only photography seems to be comfortable with; and so perfectly framed, so delightfully exacting, that they almost cannot fail to charm the viewer.

‘Til Death Do Us Part: Alexander McQueen

Kate Moss in Alexander McQueen, Image by Cedric Rivrain

40 years old – and gone. Lee Alexander McQueen, I hope you’re out drinking with Yves Saint Laurent and your old friend Isabella Blow, collaborating on new shoots with Irving Penn and Bob Carlos Clarke and other fashion greats who’ve left us in recent years. Your vision was singular, your talent unparalleled. You summoned ghosts in front of our disbelieving eyes, and crafted runway landscapes of rain, fire and snow. You challenged norms by collaborating with unconventional beauties such as Beth Ditto, and stunned us with your visions of antlered seraphs, Leigh Bowery-inspired harlequins and dashing turn-of-the-century brutes. In the wake of what appeared on the outside to be a successful, inspired year for you, it’s hard to imagine what was in your heart at the moment you took your life. But we all have our demons. May yours finally be at rest.

The Last Days of Gadjo Disko

Gadjo Disko was a notorious dance party that first took place at the Rhizome Collective in Austin, Texas in April of 2008. This past Saturday, we bade a sweaty, sparkly farewell to this be-spangled cavalcade of devoted Diskovites. Miraculously, our fake eyelashes stayed adhered despite our tears!

Miss Valerie Hemming (aka. Vas ist Das) and Wanda Kruda boogie down at the second Gadjo Disko.

Gadjo Disko was born from the restless minds of four storm-tossed former New Orleanians (myself, Mack Henson, Chesley Allen and Sarah King) who found ourselves part of the growing diaspora in Austin after Hurricane Katrina. We had put on extravagant events in New Orleans inspired by the Dada Balls of yore: Cabaret Revoltaire was a balls-out, full-contact, total-participation party that combined art, dance and performance without the restrictions of a passive audience. After the vagaries of the storm, we decided to pare it down and just do “a simple dance party”. Little did we know then what a behemoth our baby would become!

Tash Kouri of The Gyronauts.

Our Otesánek grew and grew until it encompassed and surpassed the boundaries of age, gender, ethnic background or cultural milieu. I’m not sure where else you might see 66 year old grannies (our amazing friend Beth, who danced at every single Disko) getting down on the dance-floor next to depraved trannies!

Sometimes coming up with an ensemble for the evening can prove challenging. When in doubt, go without! We always provided free entry to completely naked people.

I’ve traveled far and wide enough to know how rare it is to find a party that transcends any one scene, where burners, hipsters, nerds, punks, queers, goths and all the beautiful and (thankfully) unclassifiable freaks can get together without the least trace of pretension or scorn…

Camille Rose Garcia’s Alice, With Fabulous Prizes

Here at Coilhouse, we spend a lot of time discussing our joint paper fetish. Ink this, paper stock that – we’ve found ourselves having many of these conversations well into the wee morning hours. At least two of us have been escorted out of book stores after hours of illicitly sniffing some shiny new release to a pulp. These things happen. And now, my newest object of forbidden love is It Books’ new edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia.

If you’re not familiar with Garcia’s work, she does things like this. Though the brilliance of a Camille + Alice fusion had never occurred to me before, having now personally seen [and smelled] the book has me wondering why. Everything about this is perfect. PERFECT! From a wobbly, swan-necked, and overgrown Alice crying strings of ruby tears through mascara-caked lashes on page 20, to a rabbit that would make Freyagushi proud tea-dipping a defenseless Dormouse, these character designs are a macabre delight. Camille’s swirly psychedelic style allows the imagination run free, as Carroll, presumably, intended.

Let us go back to that paper fetish for a moment. As if the beautiful illustrations weren’t enough, this edition is Decked. Out. The dustcover has spot gloss, the capital “A” on hard cover is debossed and outfitted with pink foil, and there is gold ink throughout the book. Oh, and the pages are made to look aged. Mmyep, adoration in full effect. Just don’t ask me to replicate the sounds I made while leafing through the thing for the first time and we can stay friends.

Now for the really fun part! To commemorate this release, and because we love you, we’ve teamed up with It Books to give away three copies of this book, three Alice tote bags, and three limited edition signed and numbered lithographs by Camille Rose Garcia. All you have to do is comment, and be a resident of US or Canada. Though this will be a totally random drawing of numbers from hats, I encourage you to share your own Alice art and stories. This book has been a part of so many childhoods and we want to know how it warped your pliant kid-brains.

EDIT: The raffle is over and we are confirming winners’ locations before announcing their names

Click the jump to see the tote and lithograph artwork.