In early 2012, the Russian feminist punk band/avant grade group Pussy Riot staged several disruptive performances in Moscow. Inspired by Oi! bands, the riot grrrl movement, and an diverse slew of cultural thinkers, the band donned colorful ski masks, armed themselves with electric guitars, and sang in protest of the  devastating violations of civil rights happening under Putin’s regime.

Back in February, Mer blogged about the band’s “Punk Prayer” – an incident in which the band stormed Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral for an impromptu performance. The lyrics of the song criticized the Orthodox Church’s corrupt alliance with Putin’s government, asking Mother Mary to deliver Russia from Putin’s third term. “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, become a feminist,” the girls sang before they were dragged away by the authorities.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Mariya Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, the three jailed members of Russian punk collective Pussy Riot

After the performance, things got dark for Pussy Riot. Three members of the group were arrested, thrown in jail, denied bail, and held without trial for months. They have been charged with “hooliganism,” and are facing up to seven years in prison. At time of writing, the women have spent 117 days in jail, with the trial postponed for months longer. This is without any family visits, despite two of the girls being young mothers.

Shit is fucked up and bullshit in Russia. Putin has just exponentially increased the anti-protest fine, riot police are savagely beating anti-Putin protesters, and the homes of opposition leaders just got raided. Moscow has just placed a 100-year ban on LGBT pride parades, and St. Petersburg has banned any images of “gay propaganda.” Meanwhile, Russia’s Kremlin-controlled media has done its best to sway public opinion against the girls, painting them as “blasphemous” criminals bent on destroying the entire Russian Orthodox religion. In this climate, it’s likely that the three members of Pussy Riot will be convicted. In fact, just 7% of Russians believe that the band should not somehow be punished.

Luckily, Pussy Riot’s plight has started to gain international attention. Solidarity demonstrations are happening around the world, there have been enthusiastic benefit shows, and Pussy Riot has caught the attention of the art world. In Russia, more than 100 of Russia’s best-known cultural figures have signed a letter urging for the band to be released. Abroad, musicians including Kathleen Hanna have taken up the cause, and Anti-Flag released a Punk Prayer cover in support.

What can you do to help? For one, spread the word. Organize a local benefit, or donate to their legal fund (note: at time of writing, the site where you can donate is down, but most of the time it’s running). Take action with Amnesty International, urging the Prosecutor’s Office to drop the charges and release the band. Stage a protest at your local Russian Embassy  or Russian Orthodox Church. Take pictures. Show the band that they are not forgotten.

"Let's Play Pong"

Today is Atari’s 40th anniversary. It was 1972 when those honkin’ huge-ass, faux-wood-paneled PONG cabinets started proliferating in pizza parlors and bars and pinball arcades all over California, their glowing consoles featuring simplistic two-dimensional graphics representing a two-player table tennis game. While PONG wasn’t the earliest video arcade game, it was the first truly successful one. And the rest is history. And that’s one to grow on. And knowing is half the battle.

And now is the time on Curlhauz when we stomp punch kick derp DANSE.

Help @Theremina Impress the #hotplumber!

Earlier this month, in the middle of a rather typical Coilhouse work day, a certain Hot Plumber walked into Mer’s life. Time seemed to stop and the world watched in awe as Mer live-tweeted her encounter with the dashing, dignified, big-handed plumber.

Alas, instead of advancing boldly, my adorably shy co-editor hid under a blanket in the other room while the hot plumber worked his magic. He left without ever suspecting the powerful connection that existed between them, wondering perhaps why nothing he did – not the loud banging in the kitchen, nor his deft handling of the plumbing snake – seemed to catch her eye.

Coilhouse readers, we can’t let this missed connection fade into history. We have to help Mer gain the confidence needed to grab the Hot Plumber’s attention the next time that he walks through that door, making the image at the top of this post a reality! How about arming her with an unforgettable ice-breaker: “did you know that I’m Klout’s Top Influencer on Diarrhea?” What self-respecting Hot Plumber could resist a person of such power, such prestige?

Mer is currently #5 on the list of Klout influencers about Diarrhea (she’s also influential about Unicorns and Adolph Hitler). Ever since Mer found out about Klout, it’s been her ambition to be at the top of this elite list. Let’s make it happen! On this special day and during all of next week, please join me in giving Mer a +K on Diarrhea on Klout, and helping make her dream come true. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MER! We love you.

The Collective Tarot: Queer-centric, Radically-Politicked Mysticism

Have you ever wanted Tarot card explanations that rejected the gender binary, referenced political movements, and quoted riot grrl music? If so, this deck is for you.

In The Collective Tarot, wands, coins, cups and swords are replaced with magical found objects:  keys, bones, bottles and feathers. The court cards (page, knight, king and queen) are replaced with the Seeker, Apprentice, Artist and Mentor.  While most card names in the Major Arcana remain unchanged, all have inspired new interpretations. Certain cards that contain outdated tropes (for example, “The Hierophant” – when is the last time that metaphor was relevant to your life?) have been replaced with more relevant symbols, such as “The Code” (referencing the hanky code) and “Intermission.”

The deck is designed by 5 core collective members and 25 contributing artists/co-collaborators. Artist Annie Murphy, one of the deck’s creators, said she felt inspired make a new Tarot deck when she found that she and her friends were unable to relate to the Christian, Euro- and hetero-centric symbolism found in many modern decks. In crafting the Collective Tarot, Murphy and other artists wanted to represent “beings and bodies of size and of color … as well as differently-abled, multi-gendered and multi-generational characters.” The card interpretations speak to the problems of modern people – the struggle to complete an art project, negotiate a polyamory agreement, or organize a volunteer group – while remaining rich with magical lore.

The deck has been out of print for two years. Now, the artists are putting out a limited third edition. A Kickstarter (with only 5 days left to contribute!) is going on for the third print run of the Collective Tarot. Those who contribute $30 or more will get a copy of the deck. In addition to a deck, one of the prizes is a T-shirt featuring the Ace of Bones by Annie Murphy, as seen below:

Hot Potato Style By Nicky Da B

I’ll be honest with you, dear reader, I’m not confident that I have the vocabulary required to properly parse the contents of Nicky Da B’s seizure inducing video for “Hot Potato Style”. In fact, it is all together possible that I was, indeed, absent for much of it, my brain having shorted out around the time that Patrick Stewart makes his first appearance. Just to be on the safe side, you may want to stick your wallet in your mouth before hitting play.

Via poetv

BTC: Pretty Eight Machine

Good morning, comrades.  Embedded for your aural pleasure, here’s a re-engineered chiptune version of NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine by Inverse Phase. You can buy it, too, via Bandcamp. Digital and CD! (Alas, no gloomy-and-weirdly-stinky-black-casette-tape-with-white-lettering option. Anyone else remember those?)

Inverse Phase used eight different 8-bit systems: SID/6581 (Commodore 64), POKEY (Atari 800), straight 2A03 (NES), AY/SCC+ (MSX+Metal Gear 2 or Snatcher cartridge), SN76489 (Sega Master System), 2A03+VRC6 (Famicom+Castlevania 3 cartridge), LR35902 (Game Boy), and OPLL (MSX-MUSIC or Japanese Sega Master System).

(Via Eric Mortensen, thanks!)

Brief, Fulminating Ruminations on Jack Parsons

In the next room, tucked away in a fireproof lockbox, there’s a handwritten note from 1952, hastily scrawled down on looseleaf paper by a man named John (aka Jack) Whiteside Parsons. (My partner and I are both fascinated by the tales surrounding Parsons and his equally scintillating wife, Marjorie Cameron.) Purchased a few years back from a reputable private collector, it’s a short list of the books from Parsons’ personal library– the ones he planned to take with him when he relocated from Southern California to Mexico. Everything from biochem science to William Blake to Alice in Wonderland. Only… Parsons never made it to Mexico. Within days of writing that note, the man blew himself up amid persistent, weird rumors of ritual workings, sex magick, portals.

Sixty years ago to this day, in fact.

June 17th, 1952: a “brilliant young rocket scientist and occultist was killed in an explosion in Pasadena of origins that remain mysterious […] Five days later, Pasadena police closed the case and announced that he dropped a vial of fulminate of mercury onto the floor of his home laboratory  […] He was 37 years old and one of the country’s top chemical engineers, a founder of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the inventor of the solid fuel that would take man to the moon.”  (via)

Such a strange fellow, with such an utterly bizarre life trajectory! And for me, for whatever reason, something about that list of indispensable books feels more eerie and portentous than any of his “Do What Thou Wilt”/”As Above, So Below” writings. But in any case, thoughts of Parsons’ mythic Moonchild loom large in my sky tonight. His biography is one of the most compelling stranger-than-fiction stories of the 20th Century. Here’s some highly recommended reading for the newly intrigued:

Painting of Jack Parsons by Marjorie Cameron

June 16th is Bloomsday

Photo of James Joyce by Berenice Abbott

From Molly Bloom’s soliloquy, the final line of Ulysses by James Joyce:

“…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. “

Happy Bloomsday, everyone! Let us celebrate with a viewing of Pitch ‘n’ Putt with Joyce ‘n’ Beckett

via Colin Peters

Transmography: Thirteen Fairytale Portraits of Queers Beyond the Gender Binary


Bay Area residents: tonight is the opening of the Transmography exhibit at the Union Square Lomo store!

Transmography is a collaboration between photographer Najva Sol and artist Molly Crabapple. Najva took the photos using a Lomo camera, and Molly embellished them with her unique illustrations:

Transmogrify, Verb: To transform, esp. in a surprising or magical manner.

From poets to porn-stars, computer nerds to community gardeners, artists to activists: these portraits capture some of the real gender warriors today. They are trans, genderqueer, or just gender-fabulous, and they deserve their own magical realm.


You can also see the photos on display at the New York Lomo store in Greenwich Village, or buy them on Molly’s site. All prints are 17? x 17?. The images are signed and numbered by both artists in an edition of 5, and cost $200 each. More images, after the cut.


Mollusc's Condensed Gastropod and Other Delights

Mollusc’s Condensed Gastropod by Jason Levesque

Recently, the Virginia MOCA premiered “I Like Soup,” a group show inspired by Andy Warhol. Co-curated by Heather Hakimzadeh and Coilhouse contributor Jason Levesque (who also created a piece of art of the exhibit, above), the show features customized soup cans by a score of talented artists. Below is a piece from artist Chet Zar, who was featured in Coilhouse Issue 05.

You can see and purchase the cans on the MOCA website. Proceeds will benefit MOCA’s educational programming and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia.

Can of Worms by Chet Zar