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The content presented herein will most likely offend someone's sensibilities, in some capacity or another, and there are profanities as well as haphazard juggling of taboo subjects in an insensitive fashion involved, and the reader should consider herself WARNED about them! If every generation is doomed to fear for the following one, Trenton Willey may be one of our foremost warning signals. Some of his shenanigans might be unsettling, but they do at times bring to mind how we are in a time where the swastika is almost as innocuous as the fanny pack. We are drowned in the tedious irony of bad fashion in a decade without any distinctly remarkable cultural shifts beyond that of the push for recycling, and in light of this, Trenton, a Maine native, comes off like some kind of ham fisted crankhead beatnik of a spiritual leader.
While it may seem buffoonish at first, Willey's surrealistic stream of brutish puns and psychedelic one liners eventually seem like they are transcendent; Some kind of ultra reality where humor is only the pretext for the sort of nonsense that finds us leaving theaters feeling drug-addled after a particularly mind bending movie, or just guiltily laughing our asses off. He appears as someone who happened to take mental imagery of dinosaurs, care bears, made for TV movies, and soap operas, along with mass murder, racism, sexual abuse, daily news, political correctness, and various media histrionics all into the blender of his mind, set on liquefy. But rather than presenting these sometimes turbulent concepts as a means to shock people with the severity of them, he presents them with the sort of aplomb that one might expect from Mister Rogers and in the context of total madness. When I heard that Trenton was talking about going for the Guinness Book of World Record for the longest stand up comedy set (40 hours), I invited him to do stand up on the phone for 6 hours with no audience, to be aired on my radio show.
I'm fascinated by the concept and the purported benefits of image streaming, and I'd be happy to uphold someone who would be able to go through with it, especially if he is keeping with this style of slinging ludicrous word diarrhea throughout. It would certainly add to his body of work; endeavors such as interviewing his father about gay animal marriage, making a play with a dead cat, the animated film "Hair Camp" (featuring Venus, a vegan cannibal Venus flytrap with a British accent), teaching invisible children about death (WARNING: this one is particularly viscous), a group protest where every person protests something different, stabbing himself during a knife dance, and getting chased by hecklers. In this case, Trenton didn't make it 6 hours, his phone kept dying. I believe he can do it. Instead, the series of recordings start off with a pretend interview with a dinosaur, and a decline into drunken depression/distant, pitiful domestic arguments that bring to mind Happy Time Harry. Trenton granted permission to air the entirety of the recordings unedited. Below is a video clip of Trenton's stand up, as a tooth sandwich appetizer.
Announced at the recent Comic-Con, Kiss will be teaming up with Archie Comics for "In your face tales of Kiss/Archie". Apparently Kiss will come to Archie's hometown of Riverdale in the pages of Archie #627, that will kick off a 4-part "Archie Meets Kiss" storyline. Yes, to the left is Veronica, Jughead, Betty and Archie donning Kiss makeup. I don't know about you, but the phrase "in your face" was not exactly a phrase that I equated with Archie Comics or any of those characters at all. To my surprise, it looks like others have visualized grown up versions of Archie as well. Here's a trailer for a fictitious movie called "Riverdale," with a new take on the Andrews clan - it doesn't have the naivete and lightness that I remember from the original Archies years ago, but I think it's well done in teen/vampire network style.
My path happened to cross with Mark Barkan, who authored the B-side of the Sugar Sugar single; a song called Melody Hill. I was awestruck at my discovery - he also wrote the Banana Splits theme as well as She's A Fool for Lesley Gore, and he was kind enough to autograph my copy of Melody Hill/Sugar Sugar on the Calendar/Kirschner label. That single was the number one song in Billboard in 1969, and to this day I still think Melody Hill is the superior track. Just days after getting Mark's autograph, Archie was back in the news with the Kiss team-up announcement. I haven't kept up with Archie as of late, and think I'll leave it that way. My bubblegum pop history and B-sides are all I need. If I want, I can gawk at the cast of Archie in Kiss makeup- at least we know what they look like without it already! My dark side might watch this trailer a couple of times. Am I not getting with the program? I don't think so, certain things I'd rather not revisit, I'll stick with my original preference... I'll take Melody Hill anyday!
by Jake Goldman
It is, perhaps, a strange and unsavory thing to say but, alas, the truth must make itself known: Beavis and Butthead had a profound impact on me as a kid. I remember sitting on my basement couch in an uncommon state of awe and laughter; I felt high, though I’d never so much as known the smell of weed at that point (I do now, thanks). All of the MTV-produced programming at that time blew my spongy little mind. Shows like The State, Liquid Television, and even Remote Control all had nuanced, well-developed sensibilities that spoke to me in a way that the sound-stages of sitcoms could not; it all felt so new, and almost revolutionary. However, it was Beavis and Butthead that ultimately won the largest share of my heart.
I obsessed over the show. I watched the re-runs and would write down the funnier lines in a spiral notebook. I bought the video game, and the guidebooks, and saw the movie four times in the theater. Every time the pair sunk into a fit of laughter, I joined in with them, narrowly avoiding death by choking on whatever salty, powdered snack I was inhaling. My hair, at the time, was a large brown poof and braces lined my teeth. Someone once called me Butthead, and I was surprisingly okay with it.
At the time, I couldn’t be certain why exactly it was I loved them so. True, I had always been partial to fart jokes, but looking back, I was nothing like those characters. Though every episode makes it clear that
WFMU recently started up a Listener Meet-Up Group in an attempt to bring together fans of good music and good radio for some good old-fashioned social interaction and extra-curricular fun.
We want to hang out with you and embark upon exciting, enlightening, and debaucherous adventures in the metro NYC area. Most events will revolve around independent music, intellectual endeavors, and weirdo/offbeat culture.
The first meet-up event happens Monday, July 11th (5-9pm) at the new Washington Heights (Manhattan) community book shop, Word Up. We'll check out a reading by comic artists, poets, and fiction writers -- including WFMU DJs/writers Kurt Gottschalk, Amanda Nazario, and Bronwyn Carlton! Hit this page for more details and to RSVP.
By David Colosi
In The Dark Knight, starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, the Joker’s catch phrase to try to convince Batman not to kill him is “we complete one another.” Batman can’t morally bring himself to kill the joker because that would make him a villain too, but as he says, he doesn’t have to save him. Presumably, he lets the Joker die. We’ll see what the sequels say. So ends the Joker’s theory that if one dies, so too does the other. The fact is that once the Joker goes, many other villains will fill his shoes. This narrative trope has been repeated recently in the non-comic world by talking heads debating the death of Osama Bin Laden, the closest person we’ve had to an evil villain with a vision for world domination. Jokers come and Riddlers go, but there is always Batman. The hero perseveres. Well, unless you’re Captain America who was killed by one of his own on a simple walk into a courthouse – so much for the resilience of superpowers.
I’m driving at a point – the Joker does not complete Batman, just as Elmer Fudd does not complete Bugs Bunny, or Melamid complete Komar, or Garfunkel complete Simon, or Ulay complete Marina Abramovic (though for a time becoming a united self was the couple’s goal). Pairs such as these, whether combative or collaborative can split up and each individual can attempt a solo career or, in the case of superheroes, find new villains to rascal around with. Bugs had that construction worker, Yosemite Sam, and the Tasmanian Devil. Since 2003 Vitaly Komar has been making art independently, and - well - I don’t quite know what Alexander Melamid is up to. Marina Abramovic, since her collaborative’s poetic end on the Great Wall of China, went on to much success culminating in the first ever retrospective by a performance artist at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010, and Ulay - well - I don’t quite know what he is up to either (though, in a touching moment, he did appear in the chair opposite Abramovic in The Artist Is Present). Paul Simon went on to a fully blossomed solo career, and Art Garfunkel’s career has continued as well, but not to the same commercial success. The pair, though battling over business issues for decades, has revived their friendship on occasion to continue touring as a duo. In some cases a star is born and a superhero grows out of the collaborative and, unfortunately, the other can never step out of their shadow, remaining the perpetual sidekick.
But I have yet to get to my point. Unlike the pairs I’ve mentioned, there are some dynamic duos that are absolutely co-dependent. Without the one, the other would simply not function. These seem to occur best in dynamic duels where the relationship is uniquely tied to one’s need to destroy...
By Joe DeMartino
It wasn’t terribly easy to get something to go viral back before YouTube, Facebook, and other meme distributors. Most viral videos came in the form of full websites (think the Hamster Dance) or e-mailed .mov files (think the dancing baby) -- odd little accidents that look a bit embarrassing today, like a pair of bell-bottom jeans. One early viral sensation that has held up, however, is the series of GI Joe public service announcement parodies produced by Fenslerfilms. The parodies were an absurdist take on the original PSAs -- exhortations to stay safe and never talk to strangers were warped into a world where heavily armed and armored super-commandos harassed and confronted kids who were playing on construction sites or riding without a helmet. Series creator Eric Fensler talks about the creation process, the legal trouble with Hasbro he narrowly avoided, and what he and Fenslerfilms are up to these days.
NAmag: How did the original idea for the PSAs come about?
The idea to make the PSAs came from just revisiting the footage from my childhood via a DVD I found at Virgin Megastore in Chicago, IL on Michigan Ave. I went there on my lunch break a lot just to listen to music or just check out the sale cart bin of DVD's, CD's, records, and lotions. I found the GI Joe movie on DVD for 5 bucks and it had 25 of the PSAs as an extra supplement. I ripped the footage off and put it on my computer and started just messing around with it. Nothing much more to it.
NAmag: How did you go about making them?
I used Avid, Final Cut Pro, and Pro Tools. Standard programs in the post-production process.
NAmag: How did you find out that the PSAs were receiving wide distribution? This was pre-YouTube, so you couldn't just, say, suddenly notice that their view count had skyrocketed.
My gallery in Chicago, Heaven Gallery, had been hosting them on their site in 2003 and we originally got shut down because the PSAs had exceeded the bandwidth for that month. Something like over trillions and trillions and googillions of hits in 2003. No one could pay the bill.
Uncle Joe figured it out -- he does all my website stuff. So each month, Uncle Joe would put new PSAs up until we exceeded the hits, I guess, and it would shut down. I really don't know for certain. My apologies for not knowing the facts, to be honest I don't concern myself with these types of details. I did get a lot of emails from people saying how much they liked them, that was a good barometer I guess. Should I think about this stuff?
Beyond a few broad, core truths (the Nazis are Evil, the Axis are a Threat), propaganda is by its very nature filled with falsehoods, exaggerations, and lies. It reveals far more about the country that created it than its actual target. In the following cartoons, which cast the most popular animated characters of the time into situations both comic and nightmarish, the concerns of World War II America are laid bare: it's scared, defiant, and strangely obsessed.
During a parable about the idiocy of signing a non-aggression pact with a man who is a wolf AND a Nazi, the Three Little Pigs run into the eldest pig’s house, which is made out of bricks and heavy cannons. There’s a sign on the door which says: “No Dogs Allowed”, except “Dogs” has been crossed out and replaced by “Japs”. No other mention of the Japanese is made during this sequence. Frankly, it seems like an afterthought -- like they completed this cartoon and sent it through the editing process, where it was determined that there was just not enough racism against the Japanese. By then, it was too late to add, say, a horrible buck-toothed reptile sidekick for Wolf Hitler, so they slapped the sign on the house and called it a day.
They really went out of their way to portray the Japanese as inhuman, too. Hitler and Mussolini are caricatures of people: Hitler is thin and floppy, while Mussolini is fat and bull-headed. Hirohito, on the other hand, is practically an alien--he’s got bright yellow skin, a face that seems to be composed entirely of buck teeth, long ears, and pinprick eyes. Last time I checked, Japanese people do not possess any of those characteristics (I would say, “anime doesn’t count”, but this doesn’t even happen in anime).
The wolf wants more. He will not use what he gains. It is enough for him that it is there to make his own. He will blow down the house of straw and sticks, and try to blow up the house of cannons. He will eat the pigs. All of his minions are either obese (they have gorged themselves well) or rail-thin (they are starving of their want). He will send his crow after you, to catch your duck. He will fill your children full of death. The wolf wants more.
How many times are people going to get shot in the ass in these cartoons? There’s something very strange going on here -- you Nazis may have annexed the Sudetenland and made war on civilization, but we’re gonna shoot you in the butt! Wolf Hitler gets chased around by bombs and shells that seem to have been designed to seek out his rear end. Nazi Donald Duck (more on that later) is prodded to his fascist re-education by bayonets that poke him in the ass. In the title screen to his starring role in this rump drama, Daffy Duck shoots a Nazi duck (not Donald) directly in the asshole with a rock from a slingshot.
I understand the need to be aggressive against Nazi Germany, but do we really need to move from invasions to invasions? If you watched The Fog of War, you’ll know that General Curtis LeMay (whose dying regret must have been that he never lived to use a railgun on a communist) never went near recommending anything of this nature (mostly, his strategy was bombs, regardless of anatomical location). I’m not sure exactly what this reveals about the mindset of the gentlemen animating these cartoons, but if I had a communications device that ignored the boundaries of space and time, I’d tell them to cool it down a bit. I would also tell them to make a prequel to Space Jam, this time featuring bespectacled giant and early NBA icon George Mikan, on the condition that they put aside a small percentage of the profits in a trust fund for me.
It’s perhaps a little vulgar when the three little pigs launch bullets literally full of money at Wolf Hitler. They’re helpfully labeled “Defense Bonds”, which is a nice little reminder to the American public to get crackin’ with the bond-buying. Additionally, the exhortation to BUY WAR BONDS gets repeated an awful lot during the less-subtle cartoons, but this is to be forgiven. Tanks were needed to crush the Nazis, and tanks are not free.
One very specific type of envy, to be accurate. A hint: observe the number of cannons in these cartoons. Cannons abound. Tanks have two at minimum, sometimes as many as five. Sometimes, the cannons go limp. A pig will feed the cannon vitamins, and it is ready once again to fire away.
There is only the barest mention of Russia in these cartoons. This may be a disservice.
Did you know that, out of the total number of German army soldiers who died in World War II, something like nine out of ten were killed by the Russians? Our image of that war is of America saving the day, and this is not without merit. England alone would have been unable to mount a counter-invasion on its own and would have been forced to surrender eventually had it not received American aid. It’s important to remember, however, that alongside Good Old Fashioned American Know-How and the Legendary British Resolve, the war was won by Millions and Millions of Russian Conscripts, dying in Stalingrad, clogging the gears of a meat grinder.
Donald Duck is in hell.
He doesn’t know how he got here. It seems like he’s always been in hell, but the memories of another land flicker across his overworked brain like the last fireworks of the last Fourth of July. He is on an assembly line which stretches into infinity. His tormentors want him to build shells. His tormentors want him to hail the Fuhrer. They are not satisfied with the slightest delay in either of these actions. Earlier, in a different world, the Fuhrer was a wolf, but here, he’s a man. Someday, the wolf will be blown to hell, greeted by a leering band of devils, but Donald will not be there for that.
Donald has been up since four o’clock in the morning. He was awoken by a band of grotesques singing a song about the Fuhrer, and it seems like their chorus ambushes him at the worst possible times.
He is so very good at his job. His wings long ago evolved into hands, and they shame humanity with their quickness and dexterity. Small shells are no problem. Larger ones are a cakewalk. Donald could screw shells together forever, but his skill only encourages his tormentors. They finally trip him up. They may have never wanted him to succeed. If only they would stop screaming at him. If only the music would stop.
One day, Donald will wake up in America. He never left. He was only dreaming. The dream was eternity.
Joe DeMartino is a Connecticut-based writer who grew up wanting to be Ted Williams, but you would not BELIEVE how hard it is to hit a baseball, so he gave that up because he writes words OK. He talks about exploding suns, video games, karaoke, and other cool shit at his blog, The Toy Cannon. He can be emailed at email@example.com and tweeted at @thetoycannon. He writes about sports elsewhere. The sports sells better.
... does a duck need a car?
(And was it Spitzer's idea to give this volatile malcontent a license in the first place?)
WFMU is holding a week-long online auction, Oct 5 - 12 -- a creative measure to help us raise some extra cash this Fall.
We're offering up tons of amazing goodies, from modestly-priced records, CDs, and comics, to coveted music ephemera and outlandish experiences that tickle the imagination.
Here are a few highlights:
- Sit in on a cast read-through for The Simpsons at Fox studios in L.A. Bid now!
- Sing onstage with Yo La Tengo during one of their Hanukkah shows at Maxwell's. Bid now!
- Snag tickets to the sold-out Guided By Voices concert in NYC. Bid now!
- Grab The Best Show on WFMU Mega Pack and have lunch with Tom Scharpling. Bid now!
- Have Tea for Three with Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields. Bid now!
Browse through WFMU's incredible auction listings and place your bids!
Last month, Billy Jam had asked me to help him with a remote broadcast on September 10th, to which I obliged happily, not entirely taking note where it was going to be. I put the date/time in my schedule and was going to get the details closer to the broadcast. I got directions emailed to me a day before the remote and the descriptions "treacherous", "fire trap", "sketchy", "caution", "down the cliff", and "deadly", were all within the body of this email. As was "X Ray Burns"... I thought to myself "this is either going to be a blast, or it'll be the last day of my life!" I packed my bathing suit and went headfirst into the broadcast that Billy titled "Dirty Jersey: Throw the Needle in the River": featuring Bill Rapp, Wheeler Antabanez, The Two Maks (Weird NJ), X-Ray Burns, Diane Kamikaze, DEMER, & Gentrified. All NJ aficionados, homeboys, homebodies, historians, hooligans or devotees, in their own way. If you haven't checked out the archive of the show, check this minute long YouTube blast for a taste of how the entire 3 hours went down - and literally almost washed down the river if it weren't for some quick troubleshooting by Liz Berg back at the compound.
Posted by dianekamikaze on September 13, 2010 at 04:18 AM in Art, Billy Jam's Posts, Comics, Diane Kamikaze's Posts, Film, History, Music, New Jersey, Photography, Radio, Science, Travel, Video Clips, WFMU in General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Drew Friedman is not just one of America's most well-known and widely respected illustrators, but his work is arguably the most identifiable. Having worked for counterculture bibles over the years like National Lampoon, RAW, Screw, SPY and Mad, Friedman has, in the past fifteen years, garnered mainstream respectability with onslaughts of work for Entertainment Weekly, Mother Jones, Newsweek, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, Time and countless others. Friedman has also published several entertaining books, including his two critically acclaimed collections of portraits titled Old Jewish Comedians. I spoke with Drew Friedman recently in anticipation of his new collection, an overview of those last fifteen years of mainstream respectability: Too Soon? Famous/Infamous Faces 1995-2010 from Fantagraphics Books.
Kliph Nesteroff: I heard that you were recently at a party with Albert Brooks. Had you met Albert before?
Drew Friedman: No, that was the first time. It was a recent party in Los Angeles and Albert was a guest at the party. I'm a huge Albert Brooks fan, dating back to the early seventies - seeing him on The Flip Wilson Show and Saturday Night Live, even Ed Sullivan. It was a treat to meet him. I'm not sure if he knew who I was, but I gave him a couple copies of my Jewish comedian books, which he enjoyed. He asked if his dad was in there because his dad had been a comedian called Parkyarkarkus. His father was actually named Harry Einstein and as a joke named his son Albert. Albert Brooks' real name is Albert Einstein, he changed it to Brooks when he became a comedian. I said, "No, your father died a little too young." His dad actually died on the dais at the Friar's Club in nineteen fifty-eight at a tribute to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. He died right on the dais right after doing his act, when Albert was twelve. This is all incidental. When I was talking to Albert at this party he said, "Drew, did you know that Harpo's ex-wife married Frank Sinatra?" I said, "No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife." He said, "No, no, it was Harpo's ex-wife." I said, "No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife. Look, we have Andy Marx, Groucho's grandson standing right here. Let's ask him." I said, "Andy, which one of your uncles married Frank Sinatra's wife?" He said, "Well, that was Zeppo's wife." That's why I love L.A. It's handy to have Groucho's grandson [around] when you need him.
Tony Coulter here, with another helping of digitally reconstituted audio/optical artifacts. As always, the analogue/physical originals, of the sounds at least, were acquired since abandoning the shores of Brooklyn eleven months ago. Material support this time 'round was provided by Cozmic Eddie, recurring guest host of KPSU's Psychedelic Renaissance.
And now ... jump in!
That's right, the August 2010 issue of Gentlemen's Quarterly magazine listed the Best Show on WFMU host Tom Scharpling in their 2010 Comedy Countdown. Scharpling is one of 37 people who are "never not funny," according to GQ! Click here to subscribe to the Best Show p**cast, and click here to catch yourself up on Best Show highlights with the Best Show Gems p**cast.
winter's night in the 1980s, somewhere between the ages of 7 - 9
years old, in the depths of the industrial North-East of England, I
switched on the television. Expecting the usual fare - a slice of
Cilla Black coaxing strangers into a spot of continental fucking, or
some old men running about in fields for Last of The Summer Wine, or
a cheeky chappy with his hand up a toy gopher's bottom apparently
conversing in screeches - imagine my surprise instead to see a
monocled man, lip-synching appallingly to some old, scratchy music,
accompanied by a small ensemble of besuited gents playing frying pans
and feather dusters, whilst interjecting on the left a big man
dressed as a Wagnerian maidens blows pursed-lipped raspberries,
grinning flirtatiously into the camera.
My world was changed. To this day I still trace everything I've created since back to that single, isolated moment of television. The lunatic behind this sublimely strange moment was not, however, the subject of this article. This was Spike Milligan, writer, comedian, manic-depressive, insider, outsider, nice man, nasty man, and so on.
Growing up, Spike was my hero. Irrefutably and unquestionably. He was the greatest artist in the world to me.
As I got older I began to realise that Spike was not “the greatest artist in the world”. In fact his work is patchy, often unpleasant in its racism, often severely unfunny. But it is usually, at least, interesting. And when it's at its best it touches those heights of the sublime, that extends beyond words into strange passion, that the best works of Lewis Carroll, or Lear, or Burroughs can reach.
But why am I rabbitting on about Spike Milligan in an article ostensibly about the late, great Frank Sidebottom?
A couple of years back, living quietly in rural Brittany, an e-mail hit my inbox from Mr Sidebottom. He had sent a mail out to every WFMU DJ, attempting to bag himself a live spot at the WFMU Record Fair or something suchlike.
Frank wasn't given a spot at the show, and later planned to turn up and gatecrash, a stage invasion!
He even advertised news of this surreptitious event on his website.
This is, undeniably, strange behaviour for a “normal human being”. But Frank Sidebottom, like Spike Milligan, was not, thank goodness, a normal human being, not governed by the same mores and social anxieties that put the majority of us into the sort of boxes Beckett's Unnameable writhes agonisingly inside.
When someone like Frank makes an untimely exit, a one-off who, whether you liked his work or not created something unique in the annals of art history (I don't believe it's unreasonable to speak of Sidebottom in this context – the division between “high” and “low” art is something made by the sort of institutions that I generally detest), it leaves a vast gaping hole in the world. I am not usually affected by the deaths of people I didn't know personally. Spike Milligan and Frank Sidebottom (also Peter Cook) have been the exceptions to that rule so far.
Frank's passing also feels strange because surely he couldn't die! He was part cartoon, wasn't he? Some kind of new species borne out of a passionate night of sordid and thoroughly enjoyable intimacy between Tristan Tzara and Max Fleischer, egged on by too many absinthes and the fires of Esquivel banging out of the Dansette.
What was it that Frank Sidebottom actually “did”?
It’s tempting to start this review with the whole life story of Yoshisaburō, later known as Utagawa Kuniyoshi, but you can read all that stuff on Wikipedia. And no images I can post can give you even a fraction of the experience of seeing his actual work, which you can do—and should do— until June 13 at the Japan Society.
The show is basically works owned by a private collector, Arthur
R. Miller, who’s donated the whole batch to the British Museum, so it may be
our last chance to see all these in one place without flying through volcanic
ash. The exhibit also includes some Kuniyoshi rarities from the Japan Society’s
own collection. There are a few collateral pieces—pages from Kuniyoshi’s
sketchbooks (!), original drawings from which the block carvers worked, and a
vintage fireman’s coat with a Kuniyoshi image painted on the back that reminded
me of those denim jackets with licensed characters like Yosemite Sam or Taz on
The show is basically works owned by a private collector, Arthur R. Miller, who’s donated the whole batch to the British Museum, so it may be our last chance to see all these in one place without flying through volcanic ash. The exhibit also includes some Kuniyoshi rarities from the Japan Society’s own collection. There are a few collateral pieces—pages from Kuniyoshi’s sketchbooks (!), original drawings from which the block carvers worked, and a vintage fireman’s coat with a Kuniyoshi image painted on the back that reminded me of those denim jackets with licensed characters like Yosemite Sam or Taz on them.
Ukiyo-e prints were inexpensive, mass-produced decorative images for folks who couldn’t afford paintings. Although most of Kuniyoshi’s prints were illustrations of popular stories or portraits of actors, he acquired a reputation as a subversive “political” artist whose real themes were hidden behind his ostensible subjects. Because of this, he was subjected to heavy censorship, which pushed him into creating works such as “Strange and Wondrous Immortal Turtles” (aka “Turtle Fun, Wonderful, Wonderful”)—a bunch of turtles with the heads of famous actors, heading for a cup of sake. WTF, right? But awesome just the same. Kuniyoshi's depictions of shadowy demons, spider monsters, giant skeletons, and octopus samurai continue to influence manga artists today.
I spent about two hours just walking through this show, and it wasn't enough. I'm going back to see it again and to buy the catalogue. Admission to the Japan Society gallery is free on Friday evenings from 6:00-9:00, and afterward you can walk down the street to Menchanko-Tei and have a nice bowl of chanpon and some watered-down sake. But whatever you do, see this show. Really.
Thanks for reading my blogpost today, and may God bless.
When Dan Clowes went to Hollywood and started making movies with Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi I wondered if he would ever do another serious graphic novel again. Its been a decade since David Boring came out in book form! But this week Drawn and Quarterly release the full length graphic novel Wilson. It was worth the wait. (click on images for larger size)
Wilson is an odd bird. He tries to befriend stranger after stranger in coffee shops and bars, and later in prison - but he really doesn't like anybody. Mostly he just talks to himself. Its a sort of introspective misanthropy. Clowes draws Wilson in a variety of styles, but Wilson's awkwardness and our discomfort remains constant.
The individual pages are all moments of one epic pathetic story. After his father dies Wilson sets out to find his ex-wife (who now has the tattoo "Property of Sir D.A.D.D.Y. Big-Dick" on her back). They hunt down their teenage daughter, born after the marriage ended and given up for adoption. Wilson believes they can make it as a family. Huh. Check out the D&Q blog for the Clowes tour dates (he will be at the STRAND next Wednesday.
Chris Boarts Larson is always busy, and always smiling. She is the creator of Slug and Lettuce fanzine, a free quarterly publication that celebrated it's 20 year anniversary in 2007 with issue #90. Starting in NYC, Slug and Lettuce was the zine that took days and days to read because it was so packed with information, columns, reviews, comics and Chris' amazing live band photos. It always felt like an international zine, as her editorials were personal and relatable to those of us immersed in music in more than just a passing interest - not just a local scene report, although there was plenty of music reviewing throughout. It embodied the feeling of community in a scene that could be very disjointed, especially as the years went on. Chris is publishing out of Richmond, VA now and aside from having a life, has gotten a percentage of the photo archive online from her Slug and Lettuce personal vaults at slugandlettuce.net. The online site is searchable by issue -right now from issue #57- #89 spanning from 1998 to 2006, which I believe are her Richmond residency years. The site is searchable by issue or by band name, and she intends to chronicle the first 56 issues worth of photos, which is easily a few hundred, in the near future. At some point in time she aims to put the column archives up. Although the amount of photos is overwhelming to look at, even at this point in time, I will love the day when all those columns are back up. Check out the amazing photo of Louisville's Coliseum, at left taken by Chris from issue #85. S & L had the DIY attitude in every way covered, whether it was columns about vegan/vegetarianism, eco-punk, gardening, punk parenting or activism, I devoured each and every issue for years. The last time I saw Chris was when Amebix was in town in 2009, she was traveling to all of their shows and has contributed heavily to their website archive, check those photographs in this location. Her photography has always been amazing, and the effort to put these all online, which still continues is mammoth. She loves what she does, and it shows, year after year. Thanks Chris!
I love depictions of the beatnik lifestyle in popular culture of the fifties and sixties. Hilarious bastardizations appeared everywhere, in comic books, pulp paperbacks, LP covers, comedy sketches, film scenes, radio comedies and on down the line. That's why you should revisit the great website Like, Dreamsville and that's also why you should watch this fun Paramount cartoon from 1960.